The Year Of The Willow

Life is crazy – get used to it.

Apparently this is my giant ‘ah-hah!’ moment after 37 years of being Donloree. It isn’t very deep, but it is oddly profound.

Last night, I found myself up later than I should have been in a hotel room in downtown Vancouver, reflecting on the past year of my life … because, after all, it was my birthday. What else does a writer and introspective woman do on her birthday when traveling for work other than write and muse while the city starts to fall asleep?

The meaning of birthdays has changed as I have gotten older. Instead of looking forward to what I get to do next, I find myself looking back to see what I accomplished, how I made it through the crazy and wondering what the upcoming year will hold rather than what I’m going to make happen.

The irony of adulthood is not lost on me.

They, whoever *they* are, say, “Embrace the chaos,” which never made much sense to me until this past year. Too many of us brace ourselves against the chaos instead of leaning in with arms wide open and grabbing onto the unwieldy thing called life.

Embrace – to receive gladly or eagerly, accept willingly … or in the words of moi, grab onto with both hands and your whole heart and simply remember that you’ve ‘got this.’

After 13,505 days of living on this earth, I now know that it is up to me to choose my chaos and do what I need to do for myself with my life.

There is always something hard to conquer, a mountain to climb or some crazy, unplanned epic twist in the plot of my life, so it might as well be the chaos which helps me have the life I want to have and help me explore every single corner of the earth that is calling my name.

  • Your job is to choose your kind of crazy and make it happen, no matter what.


On becoming a willow.

When the storms of life come, it is second nature to brace yourself against the forces coming your way and try to stand tall and never waiver. Yet it is the supple willow that bends, embracing the force of the wind, which withstands the storm.

  • Withstanding the storms of life takes patience and flexibility.

I have learned to be the willow over the last few years; it isn’t passive, rather it is active, disciplined and focused. It is one of the hardest things I practice on a daily basis, to keep my hands open and be able to give and receive despite everything which swirls around me.

The thing about storms is that they eventually pass and die out. When the calm returns, there is nothing more amazing than feeling the sun shine down on you as you stand tall once again while your face breaks into an unstoppable smile.

Many lessons were given to me this year as I flexed, bent and adjusted. My birthday gift to you is to share some of what has been woven into the fabric of my soul as I went through the days where nothing seemed to change but looking back on the year, everything changed. Everything.

Ten willowy lessons from embracing the storm.

  1. Living a good life is a not a past-time; it requires grit, determination, discipline, courage, vulnerability and heart.
  2. Look fear right in the eyes and tell it to get in the backseat, strap in and put a cork in it if it is going to come along because you’re going places and don’t have time to listen to whining.
  3. Try. Fail. Try. *rinse and repeat until you succeed*
  4. Courage is something that needs to be practiced on a daily basis. It looks like standing up for yourself, risking your heart and saying yes; it can sound like anything; but it always feels like fear.
  5. Indecision is a yield sign, not a destination. To not decide is to decide.
  6. Brokenness is an opportunity to build something new.
  7. When things, people and opportunity get taken away from you it leaves room for more – always choose your next something wisely.
  8. Laugh until you can’t breathe, no one dies from experiencing too much happiness. And if you do … well, what a way to go!
  9. Be boring and do all the right things – floss, workout, train hard, sleep 8 hours a night and eat salads – 85% of the time. The other 15%, throw caution to the wind and do whatever you want to do with the people you love most in the world.
  10. And always, ALWAYS be honest with yourself about you need and take it without apology.

Life is crazy AND weird.

Two years ago, I would have never, ever imagined that I would still be living in the subarctic, making a living simply through consulting, traveling all over Western Canada for both work and fun and have everything and nothing change all at the same time in my life.

And yet, I don’t know when I was more deeply calm and happier than I found myself last night, in another city, completely unsure about what the next year of my life will hold. The only thing I am sure of is that I will continue to go after what I want and chase it down with my whole heart.

How about you? What have you learned from being a willow?

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  1. When you can find calm in the unsure, you can find calm anywhere. This was very nice to read, yet not that surprising. Oh, and happy birthday. Boo in me for missing it…

    • Hey friend! No worries on the birthday miss – it happens to me all the time. I say celebrate people when you see them, birthday or no birthday. 🙂 And the gift of peace from these past few years is such a gift, I agree. It is an incredible treasure to be able to take it with me everywhere I go …

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