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.

Fall harvest in falun

Being yourself might require a machete … just saying …

  • 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 and 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!

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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing in total honesty and with transparency Donloree. This was meaningful and encouraging. You’re an inspiration!

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