The Feminist Comparison Trap

On being a feminist.

This past week the conversation about women’s rights came to the forefront of media and conversation throughout North America. You would have to either be dead or be deaf and living under a rock to not have read about or watched the Women’s Marches and the resulting commentary.


Much to my chagrin, feminism is not something I openly discuss much because, as the past few days have proved, participating in the conversation can put labels on you that are so sticky you can’t seem to peel them off.

  • Sometimes the labels are fraught with stigma and fear, so much so that the doors they seek to open often get slammed in your face when the labels are visible.

I do my best to be excellent at what I do so no one can help but notice me for who I am, not what sex I am not … yet … sex-based discrimination and marginalization is deeply ingrained in our culture.

To march or not to march is not the question.

The real question is how do we continue the conversation without judgment and work together to move the world forward in the fight for equality and freedom for all people?

Most of my professional life I have been the only or one of the few women in the room. I know what it is like to suggest an improvement, have it be perceived as nagging and then have a man suggest the same thing 12 seconds later and somehow in the space of two breaths my idea is suddenly valid and accepted because it was uttered from the mouth of someone with a Y chromosome.

Fact: women are marginalized in this world, both in big and small ways.

A few ways marginalization and sexism in my personal world has showed up …

  • Earning 50% less than my male peers.
  • Being told I have to submit to a man and do what they say because they know better simply because they are male.
  • Turning down sexual propositions from men in authority who hold the future of my job in their hands and have no accountability for their actions.
  • Hitting the glass ceiling in an organization because I hold the highest role any woman in the organization can hold and it is middle management.
  • Unwanted physical touching in a social work setting and having other women and men make light of the situation when I have asked for help.

No, I have not been beaten for showing my face in public, been mutilated, disallowed a bank account, sold into a marriage for my family’s financial gain or forced to do slave labor and pretend it is being a wife.

I have not suffered greatly; after all I live in Canada.

Yet I have suffered; we all suffer, men and women alike.

  • If I have to have another conversation with a new college grad struggling to make her way through the sexism in her first real job or a high school girl about how it isn’t fair that she is perceived as a sex object and is thought to only be capable of answering phone for the rest of her life, it will be one too many.
  • If I ever have to sit at a business dinner next to a man who asked me to have sex with him the week prior and then found ways to brush up next to me and pretend like it never happened just so I can have a job and take care of myself while I find another job, it will be 1,000 years too soon.
  • If I have to reorient my opinion to be perceived as helpful and submissive instead of confrontational in a business meeting just so the message can be heard and I can be part of the conversation, they will be words which are bitter to speak.

Why do I put up with this? Why not speak up?

If I am honest with myself about the times I have not spoken up, it is because speaking up creates more peril than safety. Losing future work, risking the next promotion, no longer having a seat at the table and losing my job are real threats. I can’t even start to understand what it would be like to have beating, rape, murder and enslavement as real threats in my daily life simply because I am a woman.

And so I, a woman who has experienced low levels of suffering which has been judged this past week on social media as a first world problem, appreciate the voice put to the problem; appreciate the reminder that I have a voice and I am entitled to use it for both myself and others.


Even those of us who are perceived to be strong, powerful and privileged find it hard to speak up at times; we sometimes lose our voice and our way and find ourselves shrouded in shame which is not our own.

My marginalization isn’t better than your marginalization.

Marginalization, abuse and discrimination is completely wrong and needs to be stopped wherever and whenever it happens, no matter how big or how small.

It is time for us to stop marginalizing the suffering and simply work together to stop the suffering, whatever the suffering is and wherever it is happening. When we no longer listen to understand, stop suspending the belief that we are right and harshly judge other’s experiences, we are driving down a perilous road.


Its true, to create opportunity it is going to take a lot of hard work but I have a feeling we are up for it. At least I know I am up for it, labels and all.

This weekend was a poignant reminder for me to be the woman I want to be 30 years from now, risk a little bit more and judge a whole lot less.

Everything valuable comes at a cost – what are we, what am I, willing to pay? What am I willing to risk for freedom?

Less Chaos, More Kick Ass

Bienvenido to January; the month for diets, resolutions and gym memberships …

… better known as the month which is severely annoying to work out in when you live in the subarctic.

The gym is full of resolutioners which makes me just want to bike, run stairs and ski outside, but outside currently has the potential to kill me.

Oh Canada!

severe weather warning edmonton

Lovely …. “A period of very cold wind chills is expected. The coldest wind chill values will be between minus 40 and minus 45. Temperatures will drop sharply behind a cold front that is sweeping across north and central Alberta today generating extreme cold conditions …”

Today while training over my lunch hour, I had to walk through a cardio induced wind tunnel to get to the change room from the weight area. The amount of people biking, running and elliptical-ing (yes, its a verb … just add ‘ing’ and wah-lah!) created more than just a small amount of breeze; my hair blew back and it all felt very movie-esque as Cake’s ‘The Distance’ played in my ears.

Thank goodness I am a ridiculous, goal setting maven and had already made all my resolutions for 2017, otherwise the ridiculousness in the gym may have caused me to set the New Year’s Resolution to avoid all resolutioners wearing stretchy pants.

Every January I sit down and think about the things I would like to have on my Have Done list for next January; all those things I want to be able to shrug my shoulders at and smile with satisfaction that they are completed and I didn’t die while doing them.

My mantra of 2017 is ‘Less Chaos, More Kick Ass!’

Oddly enough, there is nothing unachievable on my list and I find it rather boring to look at and nothing is calling my name.

  • The ‘less chaos’ part of my mantra for 2017 makes me want to yawn.

The only goal that even invokes some emotion is to not die while running leg 2 of Sinster 7 which, if you knew how clumsy I am, would invoke fear in you as well.

Leg 2 – Hastings Ridge. Beginning at the base of Hastings Ridge, runners begin a grueling climb to a rewarding view. Once atop the ridge, you get a view of the entire valley, including Crowsnest Mountain and the Seven Sisters; certainly worth the punishing climb to the top! There is no time for rest as runners drop down the other side and head towards Blairmore to the finish of leg two.

  • Distance: 17km
  • Gain: 852m
  • Loss: 1024m
  • Max Elevation: 1873m
  • CPs*: CP2 – 10km
  • Difficulty: 3/7 Note — Difficulty is based on how hard the leg is in comparison to the other legs of the race, in our opinion ie: Leg 6 is 7/7 meaning it is the hardest. Every leg of the race is hard.
  • Trail Type: Single track, double track, dirt road
  • Est Time: 1.5 to 3 hours

Seriously, I don’t know another woman who is as likely to fall over, trip, run into something while walking or crash on her bike. For example, earlier this year after successfully running over 10 kms of trails in Stanley Park, I literally fell over a small crack in the sidewalk on Robson Street and scraped and bruised myself up to the point of requiring a massive Band-Aid application and then a slow meander back to my hotel in order to avoid further harm.

  • For a woman with my bubble wrap requirements, the race could result in complete chaos … and not the good brand of chaos. 

Inspiration can come from the most random of places.

In the midst of being bored with my goals and ambitions for 2017, I ran across a very interesting documentary on the weirdest ultra marathon on the planet – The Barkley Marathons, The Race That Eats Its Young.

Beyond all the weird details around how no one knows how to apply, only 40 people are selected for no apparent reason, how you might need to bring a flannel shirt and a license plate with you in order to be able to run, the fact that the course changes each year and there is only one map for 40 runners to look at and when people quit Taps is sarcastically played while they contemplate the meaning of life; something resonated deeply with me about this race.

You need attempt to do things you will most likely fail at; fail incredibly at.

Failure is the greatest teacher anyone can ever have and if all you do in life are the things you can do, life is is going to be comfortable and really boring.

When I think back on when I have felt the most alive, they were the times I risked complete and utter failure. Training for a bodybuilding competition, quitting my job and starting my own coaching and consulting business, leaving a 14 year marriage, speaking in front of 600 women at a breakfast, publishing my own books and making a few massive career changes have all been fraught with extreme failure and incredible success.

“Sometimes you have to prove something to yourself when it defeats you; but I gave it everything and still failed and I’m ok with it.”
~ One of the crazy runner people at the Barkely Marathon who had Taps played for him two years in a row


One of the most curious things was watching the runners who had quit the race. They stayed around and helped those who were still running. It is interesting who you find in the trenches with you when you are struggling to reach a goal that is bigger than you are. As you expand yourself and reach for more, you find your people.

  • Shared failure can and often does lead to an incredibly sweet, shared success.

Looking again at my list tonight, I have a feeling a massive edit is about to happen as I answer the question, “What epic failures must I risk this year?”

And no, I am not going to apply to race in the Barkley or any other ridiculous ultra marathons. I may be crazy, but I am not that crazy.

There is a book / screenplay which needs to be written, a career change coming, thousands of kilometres to be hiked, biked and ran and some corners of the earth which need to be explored; all of which are still rather vanilla, if I am honest with myself.

  • Apparently I don’t want less chaos. It turns out I need to embrace chaos and kick ass. 

There, that’s more like it.

*Giant, happy sigh*

What epic failures are you risking this year? Who are you going to share your success with?

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?


As I felt myself falling, the warning from the beginning of the race ran through my brain.

Be careful racing tonight. There is a lot of single track and there are many technical parts on the course – leaves, roots, logs and holes.

Confirmation that the course was extremely technical was given as my knee hit a rock, my hand rammed into a small boardwalk and the woman running behind me leapt over my body to avoid starting a domino effect on the course.

It was official, I was holding up about 100 other runners. What else could I do other than jump up and keep running?

  • There is always time to assess the damage after you cross the finish line.

My knee and hand were numb, so I decided I was fine.

There is a reason I rarely train to race or even race at all; it usually ends up with me requiring some sort of medical attention.

In reality, running a 7 kilometre cross country race should not be a problem … but as life goes, there are always problems.

  • Problem #1 – I am competitive
  • Problem #2 – I am a klutz

Looks can be deceiving … I now have a perma-crease in my hand. I should have went for stitches, instead I scrubbed it out really well and held it together with bandaids for three weeks.

My latest foray in trying to overcome my inner klutz and be completive in sport resulted in paying a man I barely knew named Jeff to bend me into a Donloree pretzel and hurt me for my own good

Welcome to active release therapy.

“You’re going to have to stop holding my hand Donloree … Donloree … its ok, just let go on my hand! ” was heard alongside my laughter and shrieks of pain as I tried to remove his hand from my hip while he worked on releasing my IT Band.

Three days before I was due to fly to Victoria to run in a short race as part of the Victoria Marathon, I was unable to walk and I knew my ridiculousness from racing the week before had gotten the best of me.

Watching your speedy running friends cross the finish line while the t-shirt you got for not running is already packed away in your suitcase, well, it is hard not to feel lame.

  • At least my feelings matched reality – I was walking like an 80-year-old woman in desperate need of a hip replacement.

Being the lame, very average athlete of the group means you sometimes have to make your own fun. The day after the race, the super runners were off to run up the side of a mountain or four and I was left to my own devices.

Sending them off with their speedy ambitions and a happy wave, I found myself at the base of Mount Finlayson, ready to go for a hike. Alone.

Only one small problem, I couldn’t find the trailhead.

After meandering through a day use area full of families with small children, looking at three different maps made up of very small lines and following a few people with fishing poles around for a little bit, I finally stumbled across a couple that looked outdoorsy and were also searching for the trailhead.

  • Before you knew it, a hiking threesome was happening.

The hike up was glorious, full of roots and steep portions, finally ending in a scramble; AKA don’t look down or you might fall off the mountain.

Mount Finlayson Hike

I thought it was a meandering hike through a forest since I was out of the Rockies … I guessed wrong! I wore two too many layers. Oops!

Stories were swapped about past adventures and life challenges and perspectives were shared on everything from politics to cooking; laughter and loud storytelling scared away all wildlife within a 5 km radius.

  • My number one goal while traveling or adventuring alone is to not get raped or pillaged; everything else is frosting on the adventure cake.

It would have been easy to let this goal keep me from venturing out to see the world on this morning, well that and the fact that I was walking like I was an old woman; but no woman named Donloree lets a little plantar fasciitis and complete hip misalignment keep her from seeing and experiencing what the world has to offer.

Mount Finalyson

It was the perfect day to be on top of the world!

While standing on the top of Mount Finlayson with my newfound friends, my heart was full and I remembered a few important truths about life.

  1. Starting out alone doesn’t mean you have to or will finish alone.
  2. Silence and solitude have more to say to you than you realize.
  3. When courage meets you at the crossroads of opportunity, you need to follow where it leads even if you are limping a wee bit.
  4. Thoroughly enjoying the people on your path while you are with them is one of the best things you can do with your time.
  5. Feeling lame and incapable doesn’t mean you actually are those things – doing your best with what you have results in fabulous adventures.

At the bottom of the mountain, I hugged Jen and Mark goodbye and wished them luck on making it to their plane on time. I plunked myself down on a picnic table to stretch out my newly seized legs and I couldn’t help but grin like an idiot; it was a perfect hike and my heart was full, overflowing in fact.



My trip to the island was full of beaches, hikes, sea stars and anemones, lighthouses and even a castle, but there was something special about the hike up Mount Finlayson. Perhaps it is because it reminded me that doing things you aren’t sure that you can do, things which are very you and require mental grit and courage to complete, results in expanding your capacity to live well.

  • There is always an opportunity in front of you, sometimes it just takes looking at three elevation maps, wandering around somewhat aimlessly for awhile and then inviting perfect strangers to be your friends in order to find it.

And yes, it is highly possible that once I was back home, I was immediately back in Jeff’s office paying him to torture me while holding his hand and screaming under my breath.

Racing … am I the only one who has injury-itis as a result?

**And the pictures are still sideways for some reason – oh the joys of the interwebs! Just tilt your head to the right while reading … and imagine them less squished than they are! **

Let’s talk about regret, baby …

Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be … let’s talk about regret …

If you’re my age, plus or minus 5 years, the Salt n Pepa song is rolling though your head.

  • You’re welcome.

For the last seven weeks I have been experiencing what it means to be ‘semi-retired‘ at the age of 36.

The business I was working for as the HR Director shut it’s doors and I have found myself reinventing myself and leveraging my consulting and coaching skills in a very interesting market up here in the subarctic.

This has been one of the easier endings I have experienced in the past few years; yet it is still incredibly difficult to navigate. Glancing in the rearview mirror, it is easy to listen to the voice that apparently knows everything and is superior and haughty in their assessment of my work and what I should have done differently.

Enter a microcosm of regrets.

  • I should have never changed jobs.
  • Why didn’t I take bigger risks in the executive meetings?
  • If only I had stuck to my guns and didn’t back down …
  • What if I had died on that hill? Apparently it WAS worth dying on …
  • Why didn’t I spend more time growing my consulting business rather than thinking about work?!
  • Maybe I should have been more mouthy and less self-protective …

And this is only a snippet of my personal regrets … corporately, there are many more.

  • The idea that you can live a life without regrets is ridiculous.

Of course you are going to have regrets; the only way to not regret anything is to be dead. And even then I am not 100% certain regrets won’t find their way into our dreams while we take the giant dirt nap.

Regret is part of life; what you do with it is what matters.

Some of the most painful regrets are the ones which are a result of trying to avoid regret in the first place.

  • I call this the Regret Circle of Death.

Regret Circle of Death – Oh I can’t do that. I won’t do that … I might regret it. Or should I do it? I should have done it. Maybe I should do it now? Maybe not? If only I had done it then. Is it too late now? Maybe I still have time. Its too late. If only I had done it … but I thought I would regret it. Now I regret not doing it. SIGH. What now?



Next thing you know, five years have passed and you’re still not doing what you want to do because it carries with it the potential risk of hurt and regret. Suddenly you find yourself full of regrets about not living the life you wanted to live; not living your life in a way that is true to who you are.

I think somehow we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Don’t strive to live a life without regrets. Learn to deal.

Should of …
Could of …
Would of …
If only …

In order to not crash while navigating life, you need to spend most of your time looking out the windshield while only glancing in the rearview mirror every now and again.

  • After all, as human beings, we are made to go forward.


Regrets will haunt you unless you deal with them and learn from them. Either they are something which fill you with shame every time you glance in the rearview mirror or they become an important lesson which shapes you to be an incredible human being and able to live a full, big life.

When the painful endings in life come, instead of berating yourself, ask good questions.

  • What am I most proud of?
  • What would I do different next time?
  • Who am I now?
  • Where didn’t I show up? Why?
  • Where did I hold back?
  • What would I do again? Not do again?
  • What hurts? Why?
  • What do I want now?
  • Where to from here?

Accept the fact that you will have regrets – just make them worthwhile and choose to risk regret by loving, living and losing.

And when you lose, lose well by learning from the regrets which haunt your dreams so you can start dreaming about an amazing future once again.

When dealt with, regret can become an intimate teacher which reveals things to you about yourself and the world, helping you expand and grow to be able to do and be more. Accepting and learning from regret gives you the ability to not fear living a full life and reminds you of how far you’ve come and what you’re capable of.

Moving through regret has taught me that showing up, grabbing onto life every single day, giving what and who is in front of me my whole heart and being fully present where I am is always worth it.

  • And it has taught me to dance, even when life continually rains on me.
If it is raining, put on the rain coat and get out there. There is life to be lived!

If it continually rains, put the raincoat on and get out there and dance even if you look ridiculous. There is life to be lived!

How has moving through regret taught you to live a better life?

Apparently I Run For Coffee

Nearly everything about my life has changed over the last two years.

It seems the only things that have remained constant are where I live and my love of cute shoes. Do not fear, I can still be found running around downtown in fabulous high heels and battling the coming epic winter months with a cheerful smile and more layers than even seems reasonable.

  • Everything changes. Everything is in constant motion. Everything is up for negotiation.

This is the blessing and curse of life, I suppose. Tomorrow, despite today’s seeming lethargy, will be different even if it feels the same.

Some things of the past two years have changed in the blink of an eye – either by my choice or someone else’s – and other things changed as seemingly slow as a river cutting through the rock face of a mountain as it creates a canyon.

One of the more mundane things that has changed for me is my training. I have traded in the barbells and free weights for tying on running shoes, lacing up hiking boots and clipping into my mountain bike; the outdoors have called to me and I have responded.

  • Hiking and biking make sense … running does not.
Asulkan Valley

A summer of navigating paths, climbing and reaching new heights. This is the beginning of my favourite hike up and run down – Asulkan Valley. The summit is hard to reach and glorious!

Let’s be honest, I run for coffee.

Or more accurately, I have running friends who lure me out of bed with promises of coffee and fabulous conversation on coffee shop patios all over the city. I have run more races in the past two years than I have run in over a decade and find myself putting in around 40kms a week on foot; this means I am heavily caffeinated. Slowly I have found my groove with running and have moved from abhorring it to simply enjoying a love-hate relationship with it. I even signed up for the Frank McNamara Fall Series where my goal is to make it past the finish line quicker than 50% of the people who showed up that day. Ummm … the U of A athletes come out to run, this is an epic goal!

  • In the mundane day-to-day running, what has changed most is me.

Running alongside women who don’t take the easy path and are always pushing to do and be more, I have found myself deeply changed and constantly challenged. Despite the amount of loss I have experienced, I find myself with more than I have ever had before and a richness of love, laughter and life that can only come from sharing yourself with amazing people day in and day out.

The Girls, as I call them, have let me sob while barely plodding along, challenged me, called me on my crap, celebrated every single success with me, watched me fail, told me when I was being an idiot and always encouraged me to keep going in life when all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed and push the snooze button for a few weeks.

  • They have seen me at my best and witnessed some of my worst and I the same for them.
Emily Murphy

For the last 6 or so Tuesday nights, we have run hill repeats of Emily Murphy Hill. She is always so willing to have her picture taken with us when we are done, even though we cursed her name about 14 times and are covered in sweat.

I never want to run; I always want to have run.

Showing up is 80% of getting to where you want to go, the other 20% is having amazing people who will go with you.

  • Why else would I show up to run 8 hill repeats of Emily Murphy week after week?

The call to keep changing, growing and challenging who I am meets me in the form of friends and fitness. And in the midst of the most turbulent time of my life, I have found my footing and developed a strength I didn’t know I would ever need to have and am extremely grateful for.


The gift of grit comes with stories, laugh lines, a furrowed brow, the ability to scale mountains and a community of amazing people to go about life with. When you find yourself going through hell and complete chaos, keep going …. suddenly, despite all the turmoil, stress and chaos, you know you’re going to be ok.

  • Even if nothing changes, everything changes because you are no longer the same.
Donloree coffee

Onwards dear friends. Keep going. Fall down. Stand up. Move forward. Do the next thing. Laugh.

The river of your life is flowing and you’re creating a canyon as you slowly cut through the obstacles in front of you; don’t forget that you get to decide where you leave your mark and who you share your life with.

Always show up and choose who you run with wisely for it will determine how far you go in life.

**Don’t ask me why my pictures are sideways … the interwebs and I don’t always get along … no matter how hard I try!**

Dear Desperate Split Ends

I swear there is something about me that attracts weird adventures.

Perhaps I have a metaphorical ‘kick me’ sign on my back, who knows?

My latest adventure resulted in a very wet, somewhat desperate, soapy, towel and flip-flop clad search for someone who spoke English.

An open letter to the woman with the dry, brittle hair …

Dear Desperate Split Ends,

I assume you are desperate to solve your split end crisis because of your need to steal only my conditioner and not my shampoo on Tuesday morning. I realize I went to the gym later than usual, so when my shampoo, conditioner and locker key were sitting on the shower shelf for 73 seconds while I used the washroom, it may have seemed odd to you to see the lonely, forlorn shower supplies on the shower shelf with no one around to use them. 

Or maybe you appreciated the fact that my conditioner is SLS free and won’t cause cancer as you work it into your hair to make your fly aways lose their wings. 

Who knows?

All I know is that when I came back to shower and started to look for my conditioner, confusion set it. ‘It was here just a minute ago. What the world?’ Searching for my conditioner only to find a random bottle of 2 in 1 no name brand shampoo on another shelf made my brow furrow. 

Suddenly panic cut off the air my throat. Not only did you take my conditioner, but my locker key was also gone. 

I understand my conditioner is rather magical, but my locker key? Seriously?

Perhaps you saw me haphazardly sprint to the lockers completely naked with shampoo still in my hair.

Yes, I was the woman who nearly slipped out of her flip-flops while taking the corner into the dry area. Those darned things are slippery when wet!

Much to my relief, you weren’t pilfering through my locker. But more than 73 seconds had passed; at least 139 seconds had ticked by. How much damage could a woman who was driven to steal due to her massive amount of split ends do in 2 minutes?

The possible quandary of being naked without car keys, a phone, my wallet, a pair of very cute Kenneth Cole boots or any clothes at all put my problem solving skills to use. Unfortunately, I found myself stuck in a very circuitous logic problem.

No clothes, no keys, no phone. No clothes, no keys, no phone. 

The locker room was empty except for a few women whose English skills are minimal, to say the least. 

Are you an 83-year-old Japanese woman? I wouldn’t know since my miming skills left much to be desired in the communication department. Even with a towel on and the shampoo rinsed out of my hair, I was unable to get any results except confused looks and giggles out of the five women who started to talk about my wild eyes, arm waving and obvious confusion.

I may not understand Japanese, but shared glances of understanding paired with giggling is not hard to comprehend.

My search for an English speaker nearly led me to walk out to the front desk wearing only my flip flops and an extremely small towel. Do you have any idea how much I hate those towels? I am a tall woman …

Fear of you stealing what might be left in my locker kept me pacing and praying for a woman who spoke English to arrive.

She spoke Japanlish; good enough for me.

Sure, she told the front desk that someone using a walker in the bathroom required help, but it kept me from risking indecent exposure.

When all that is keeping you safe in the world is 8 square feet of well worn terry cloth, you take what help you can get when it arrives.

Thank you for not stealing all of my personal belongings. I appreciate your desperate need to have smoother hair, but next time just ask to borrow some conditioner. Gym women are kind, at least most of us are, you don’t belong in our category of niceness.

My official opinion is that you are horrible, even if your hair is super silky and smooth.

You may be happier with your luscious locks but if I catch you I will definitely give you a firm talking to, grab whatever conditioner is left and possibly kick you in the shins while wearing my shower flip-flops. 

Consider yourself warned.


  • Le sigh. 

I suppose this is what I get for being sloth-like and going to the gym much later than normal.

Karma, it really knows how to bite you in the split ends some days.


Queen of the Capsize

Boats and I don’t get along.

Or more aptly put, they make me squeal like a little girl and void the effectiveness of my deodorant in mere moments. Kayak, canoe, ship, skid, ski boat, raft …. you name it, I probably don’t like it.

The last time I was in a boat, I hung onto the sides of it for dear life and screamed like someone was trying to murder me after losing my paddle. I panicked and accidentally threw it away while covering my eyes in hopes that not seeing what was happening down river would make things better.

Not having a paddle and being voluntarily blind while strapped into a kayak going down the river does not make things better, just in case you were wondering.

  • Hey — everyone has a weird fear, mine is boats.

Earlier this summer I decided to look my tippy nemesis in the face and canoe a few *ahem* 20 or so kilometres down the North Saskatchewan River.

Every so often you need to look fear in the face and say, “Oh no you don’t!”

you can


Or in my case, simply blink many times while listening to the instructions on how not to tip over while climbing to the far end of the canoe.

Stay low. Grab both sides. Take your time. If the boat is going to capsize, this is probably when it is going to happen.

I cinched up my neato PFD (that’s sailor talk for life jacket) and mentally prepared to doggie paddle down the river to catch my picnic lunch if and when I fell over starboard.

My death grip on the paddle lessened as we meandered down the river; death no longer felt imminent and I suddenly wondered what all the sweating about these past years had been for. Being the only woman wearing her life jacket meant I was the only person suffering severe underarm chafing. I joined the cool kids and made my way down the river sans PFD after my breathing returned to normal.

Who knew the pain of underarm chafing was going to override my fear of drowning?

Canoeing in the North Saskatchewan River is about as beginner as you can get. I am pretty sure turtles were passing us on the shoreline, but I still had a few moments of panic when speedboats nearly ran us over and a dead tree tried to drown me.

Did you know if you scream “Dead tree left. Left!! LEFT!!!!!” all the person steering your canoe hears is left and that is the direction you go?

The Dirt Girls taught me to yell where the person or obstacle is not where to go to avoid it. Apparently avoiding death by tree stump requires different directions than avoiding death by floating dead tree.

Yup, we kind of ran into the dead tree. 

Its not my fault at all.

Its a little bit … OK, a lot bit my fault but can you really blame the boataphobic woman?

  • Exactly.

After a few hours of gliding down the river, I realized why I don’t have a love affair with boats – I feel trapped. Trapped in a quasi-death contraption and stuck in the middle of nowhere with a whole lot of water and weird underwater creatures between you and land with only a paddle and a PFD to keep you and your lunch from a very soggy death.

What else is there to do when trapped but embrace adventure and risk freedom?

Yes, I took off all my safety gear and shoes, stripped down to my bikini and jumped in the river, why the heck not? I simply decided I would beat the river at its own game of trying to swallow me up whole.

This is avoiding death at it's finest.

Yes … this is me avoiding death — one of my finer moments in life.

Why not be in charge of your own capsize?

Being human, it is easy to get stuck by doing the same thing over and over and over, never changing what you do or how you do it and simply complain about being where you are and what you don’t have or haven’t accomplished.

If you are like me, you want to do things, accomplish and grow and it is easy to let fear, huge obstacles keep you from even trying to do what you want and get what you want out of life. If you find yourself trapped in a boat, floating down a river and all you want to do is get out – do it. Acknowledge the fact that you might capsize and own it.

Jump out of the boat and break free of confinements and fears.

You may find you like the safety of the boat, you may realize you’re strong enough to swim upstream or, unbeknownst to you, floating downstream on your back is exactly what you want and need.

Don’t let old fears keep you from what you want to do with your life. See what’s out there and try again. What if you’re not afraid? What if you are more than capable to swim to shore?

What do you need to risk capsizing?

Terrible Case of the Past {Amanda Palmer}

Being completely ready for anything is a fallacy.

There is a unique timing for action when readiness meets opportunity. Willingness to fail is a far better approach than waiting for the elusive ‘complete readiness’ to appear. Opportunities come and opportunities go, what you do with them when you have them is what matters.

  • Mostly, nearly, just about, kinda or quasi ready seem more accurate to me.

What can I say? I am a woman who likes to qualify things.

never ready


There are no guarantees in life, health, love or business. The past year has presented me with an incredible amount of opportunities to fail and I have taken nearly all of them head on because when opportunities, people and experiences which make my heart come alive find their way into my life, “Yes!” is the only answer which should be given.

Ready? Never.

Willing? Always.

Meet Amanda Palmer, an enigma who is always willing and rarely feels ready.

She is a deep soul of mystery, love and authenticity; a woman who embodies a willingness to risk failure to get what she wants out of life.

Amanda’s music is reminiscent of sitting on a rocky ocean shoreline; the crash of the waves fills your ears and the mist seeps through to your bones, yet somehow you remain warm.

As are with most things and people in life which you deeply appreciate and love, you find them when you’re not looking for them; I found Amanda through my love of memoir, not the radio.

Reading a memoir of someone you admire or who is extremely interesting is like going for a long idyllic walk with them and then finding yourself sitting out on their back porch with a glass of wine and your legs tucked under you while you watch the sun fall off the edge of the earth and start to count the stars. The conversation and sharing doesn’t stop until the last page is turned; the stars give way to the sunrise and coffee finds its way into your hands.

  • Around this time last year, I was deep in Amanda Palmer’s memoir, The Art of Asking.


Amanda is an intriguing and interesting soul, but not just for the reasons you find on her Twitter feed and album covers; she is who she is without apology and embraces the journey of being vulnerable and practicing love, whether fully ready or not.

A few days ago, I came home from an extremely emotionally exhausting day that was full day of coaching and consulting and felt the need to, “find the human statue singer lady’s music … what’s her name?”

Have you ever had the experience where you are supposed to know someone’s name and their name simply doesn’t exist in your brain?

Then you’re supposed to introduce them to someone else?

  • Embarrassing, awkward, demoralizing.

This sums up my ability to remember names of songs, bands and musicians. I hear something and the sound sticks in my heart while all the pertinent information about the song simply vanishes. When people ask me what music I listen to, I literally have to look at my phone to see what I have downloaded and am listening to at the moment.

Whatever you do, DON’T ask me to sing the song for you because I just might and you will never be able to get those 15 seconds of your life back.

If my life depended on singing even reasonably on tune, I would be dead. This may be one of the reasons I avoid traveling to the Middle East, simply because if I were to encounter a hostage situation and be forced to sing O Canada! to prove my subarctic heritage, no one would believe me.

Let’s just say googling with all I had left in my sparse recollection I had about Amanda led to some interesting results before I found her.

Her new song, Machete, made me sob when I listened to it. She sings of love and loss; love of someone who changed her life and fully loved her for who she was and didn’t let her be anything but her best self.

A terrible case of the past.

Her lyrics are haunting and point out the fact that to live a life of love, connection and risk taking creates the potential for huge loss, pain and heartache; in fact it is inevitable. Yet, there is no way else to live but to be free, to love people with your whole heart and to take opportunities that come your way whether you are ready or not; to risk aching for a past which is no longer your present.

Here is the world


To experience a terrible case of the past is both heart rending and encouraging. While reminding you of what you’ve lost, it gives you hope for a future by holding up a mirror to your soul and reflecting back your capacity to live well. It reminds you that you have within yourself what it takes to be happy and live an amazing life.

  • How you live today will be your past tomorrow, make it worth experiencing a terrible case of the past now and again.

Grab onto opportunities, people and adventures which light up your soul when they come across your path and hold tight until its time to let go; allow them to be woven into the fabric of your soul and to change you for the better.

And in the moments of terrible cases of the past, lean into the feelings and savor what you had and then lean out into the big world ahead because there is more, whether you are ready for it or not.

Go be amazing, its the best choice you’ll ever make. 


Showing Up and Sacrifice … Not Sexy, But Effective

Life is not a spectator sport.

To win at life, you have to suit up and get in the game, train hard, show up and keep standing up up when you get knocked down.

Life is meant to be lived, grabbed onto, savored and enjoyed.



I often have this conversation, which I hate ….

Random Person“I wish I could do that. I could never do that.”
Annoyed Donloree“Sure you could. You just have to start. You can actually do pretty much anything you want in life. The only rules are the ones you create.”
Random Person“No. Never. I just can’t … you can, but I can’t.”
Annoyed Donloree“Everyone starts somewhere. If you don’t start, you never will. Just start. Choose to be ok with being horrible and then keep going. It eventually gets better and suddenly you’re doing things. I promise.”
Random Person“I just can’t …”

Once you’ve decided that you can’t, it won’t work, it is impossible, you’re too old or there is no way forward, you are correct.

Fearing failure and not trying is failure realized.

The art of showing up.

98% of the battle is showing up. Truly. A year ago I would have never thought I would be a woman who could run medium range distances of 25km and longer without calling a cab to rescue me.

I just kept showing up to the early morning run groups and putting on foot in front of the other.

When I was 22 years old with a completely irrelevant Bachelor’s degree in hand, did I imagine I would be an HR Director and Executive Coach? No. Showing up to work on time and working hard and with purpose moves the needle even when you feel like you’re standing still.

  • The hardest and most important thing you can do is show up. Don’t pre-select failure for yourself.



Can’t vs. Don’t Want To

Actions tell you and the world what you actually want; words can be a cheap smoke screen of misdirection when we aren’t ready to be honest with ourselves and the people in our lives.

The worst person to deceive is yourself. Instead of saying you wish you could do, be, achieve or have something, be honest with yourself and the world.

It is refreshing to hear someone say, “No. I don’t want to do that.”

Learn to show up for what you want in life and be honest with what you want to fight and sacrifice for in life.

  • Does running an ultramarathon sound like a neat achievement? Sure. Heck as if I am going to trade that many hours of my life to be able to hang that medal around my neck while eating a post race banana or twelve.
  • Do I want to be amazing at mountain biking? You bet. This is why you will find me on my bike after an exhausting day at work, practicing single track trails previously ridden with the Dirt Girls. The many bruises I earn are happily covered in arnica while I smile with happiness.
  • Do I actually want a hot bikini body? No. I don’t want to count macros, eat 50 or less carbs a day, be unable to play hard and enjoy sports and not be able to think at work. Happy and healthy is way better than hot.

If you want to, then just do it and don’t care at all what people think. And if you don’t want to, be honest with yourself and be ok with saying you don’t want to.

Be willing to try and fail until you succeed; whatever you do, don’t fail by not showing up for yourself.

This is your life and you’re becoming someone; is it who you want to be?