Adventure Highlight ‘Real’

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

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

Malaga, Spain

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cordoba, Spain

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

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

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

Tavira, Portugal

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

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

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

Who am I without?

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

Lost? Or found?

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

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

Lisbon, Portugal

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

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

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

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

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

Cordoba, Spain

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

Highlight Real.

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

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

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

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

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

Portimao, Portugal

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

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

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


Unfortunately #MeToo

The life of being a woman … complex.

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

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

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

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

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


  • Too many women, too little change.

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

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

Myself included.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Leaving early for French class was a welcome reprieve.

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

It is hard to always have to save yourself.

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

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

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

  • Nor was it.


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

It is time for us to write different scenes.

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

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

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

  • We just aren’t there yet.

And I don’t know how to win.

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

  • Because, unfortunately, it will happen again.

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

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

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

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

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


It is time we start responding instead of reacting.

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

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

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

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

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

The conversation is always worth having.

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


Life Is Like Riding A Bicycle …

… to keep your balance, you must keep moving.

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

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

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


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

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

Try tenacity on for size.

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

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

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

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

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

The answer is no. No you don’t.

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

Tent Ridge - Donloree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • In an instant.
Helen Lake high Heels to Hiking

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~

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

High Heels To Hiking

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

Be Yourself? Umm… Maybe Try Again …

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

A woman has to live free and own her story.

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


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

Why do we stay where its not good for us?

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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

On being your future self.

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


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

  • So choose. Choose wisely. Do it today.

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Art of Becoming {Sinister 7 Musings}

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

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

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

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

Donloree Sinister 7

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

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

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

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

Sinister 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sinister 7 Feet

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

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

Why the hell are you doing this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • You become what you practice.

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

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

Huber Ledges

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

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

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

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

The Price of Fear

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

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

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

  • Except this year.

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

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

  • Oddly enough, relief filled me.

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

Last year was my first year with the Dirt Girls.

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

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

  • Small problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contessa yeg river valley trail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Over the course of the past three years, I have grown and gone through more than I thought possible.

  • Or wanted to.

Contrary to how I would prefer to live, from time to time I have caught myself fearing the future, waiting for the other shoe to drop and imagining the worst.

The problem is, some of the horrible things that I imagined happening, happened.

Yet, here I am still alive and happier than I have been in a long time or even thought possible anymore.

  • Difficult things happen all the time and it hasn’t killed me yet … even though I thought I wasn’t going to make it.

At least this is what I was telling myself while on the third mile of running up slick rock in a race in Moab a few weeks ago.

You may feel like you’re going to die, but you’ll survive. You’re a woman who can do hard things! Just don’t fall off the trail on the way down, k? Keep going!

For half of April and May, I threw caution to the wind and explored the Southwest of the USA. There is nothing like forgetting what day it is and having no reason to figure it out.

  • Traveling is an important part of life; at least my life.

When you go somewhere new, you learn more about the world and a whole lot about yourself, if you’re open to it.

20 days of adventure.

Before leaving, a massive list in the form of a custom Google Map was created. I pinned places to visit and hikes, adventures and things I wanted to see and do. Notes, links and thoughts were included in each pin, and yes, I even had a color coding system.

Southwest Adventures Google Map

I know. I am ridiculous and overzealous … there is no way you can do over 100 amazing things in 20 days. We only accomplished the green icons, I guess there is another trip down south in my future!

One of the things I found in my ‘Googleage’ was a trail race in Moab, adventure capital of the Southwest.

  • I put it on the map.

The website was pretty and it seemed like the perfect thing to do as a prep race for my impending mountainous adventure in July.

With only a few hours left before registration closed and while covered with red dust from a full day of exploring and hiking through canyons in Arizona, I found myself paying the race fee.

After closing my laptop, I promptly forgot about the race while exploring the Grand Canyon, slot canyons, natural bridges, gulches and many other incredible places.

Little Wild Horse Canyon

It is easy to forget about things when you’re adventuring! We nearly didn’t make it on time to pick up our race packages — Little Wild Horse Canyon was unbelievable.

Finally arriving at Moab just as the race packet pick up was about to close, I found myself wondering what I had actually signed up for.

Cute Race Director Woman – And you heard about the river crossing?
Donloree – No. River? Crossing?
Cute Race Director Woman – Yes. The Colorado is backed up so the wash is running deep. It came to my waist this morning. It’s at the end.
Donloree – And we have to go through, not around it?
Cute Race Director Woman – Right through. But it’s at the end. Just bring dry clothes along for after.
Donloree – Ok. Sure?

Waking up to snow on the morning of the race with the impending river crossing at the end of the race made me want to simply DNS (that’s fancy runner talk for ‘Did Not Start’).

Amasa River Crossing

I was not too impressed the night before the race …

Cue internal pep talk.

You’re Canadian. You can do this. You scoff at snow. You are better than snow. You’ve got this …

As I started the race, I gave myself permission to stop running at any time and simply quit.

Great idea in theory, but there was a small problem with the pact I made with myself … once on the course, I had no idea how to go back and not get lost.

Two miles into the relentless climb, I realized my only hope of getting off the mountain was to follow someone who I thought was also doing the 6.5 mile race.

  • Like life, the only way to survive was to keep going and figure it out while in motion.

Finally arriving at the only aid station, I took solace in the fact that I was still alive and was not lost. Three glasses of water and four orange slices later, I decided to keep going, but I had a question first.

How much longer?

Donloree – The guy giving the directions on how not to get lost out here said the aid station was at 2 miles. Did he mean two miles in or two miles left? Do you know how much further? I feel like I have been running longer than 2 miles …
Woman slicing and arranging fruit – Hmm. I have no idea. Bob, do you know?
Bob – Shoot! I meant to ask that before we got up here. I have no idea. Maybe you’re halfway?
Donloree – So, you have no idea how much longer?
Bob – No and I am glad I am in charge of water and not running. Good luck.
Woman slicing and arranging fruit – Totally! I would hate to be running today. You’re brave.
Donloree – I feel out of shape and I want Starbucks. I haven’t had coffee yet.
Woman slicing and arranging fruit – (Raising her coffee and smiling) Get a cup when you get back to town!

I didn’t harm them, if that is what you’re wondering.

It turns out the aid station was located two miles outside the finish line and after turning a corner, I could see the finish line.

Thus began the descent.

Seeing how I ran up the 4 miles of hills slower than a pregnant turtle, I tried to make up time on the downhill.

  • Insert small problem — extremely technical single track with a sheer drop off on the left.

Avoiding death prior to the swim portion of the race became my new goal.

I have never been so glad to see a murky river in my life.

No longer caring about how icky it might be, I fearlessly took the plunge without a moment’s hesitation.

As per the firm instruction of the race director, the course went through the river and if you didn’t cross there, you were disqualified.

Wet, muddy and officially annoyed, I crossed the finish line.

It took a banana, two glasses of water and a sandwich to make me human again and able to interact with society without biting anyone’s head off.

Amasa Race

Welcome to the race course … up, over, around and back down. This is the look of “Sure, I can do that tomorrow. No problem!”

Pride quickly filled the place annoyance had just occupied.

I can’t believe I just did that. It wasn’t pretty but it is done.

Everyone is running a race. Your life is your race.

Sometimes it is easy, oftentimes it is not.

The decisions you make, even the whimsical ones late at night when you’re covered in red dust from a full day of hiking, put you on a path. Most decisions in life seem banal and mindless … yet all the little things you do or don’t do set your course.

As you run through life, giant chasms of decisions come your way and you have to figure out if you are going to take the plunge or DNS.

There is rarely any way to undo what you decide; you are the one who has to live with yourself and your decision. Choose wisely.

Sometimes it is less horrible than expected. The river had gone down over night and after a few quick seconds I was on the other side of the river only with only half wet shorts.

I was lucky – it is not always this way. Sometimes it is worse than expected and you nearly drown. (I know, uplifting thoughts with Donloree …)

Whatever you do, when you’re crossing a Rubicon, make the decision which makes proud of yourself after you have a sandwich or two and are once again able to interact with society in a kind manner.

  • What Rubicon are you facing? 

Make yourself proud, do the hard but happy thing — cross your Rubicon without hesitation.

Speedy Is Not My Middle Name

Last Saturday morning I found myself bear crawling up a set of icy stairs out of the river valley, wondering how I get myself into these situations. As I desperately tried to not start a domino effect of people wearing stretchy clothes, I had this sinking feeling like I didn’t belong.

Actually I know I don’t belong.

I was in the midst of taking the shortcut back to where we had started with a few other people who needed to be at certain places by a specific times because I was very tired from running with some of the speediest people in the city.

And when I say ‘with‘ I mostly mean ‘around‘ or ‘close by’.

For some reason I have agreed to run a leg on a Sinister Seven team this year. I am in charge of not dying on leg two. I am not being ridiculous, my goal is to not get injured while putting in a decent pace so as to not embarrass my teammates who, for some strange reason, think it is a good idea to have me run with them.

  • Even stranger, I said yes when they asked me.

In an effort to avoid experiencing a medi-vac experience first hand, I have started running with Fast Trax. They are a group of super speedsters who rarely fall over on the trails because they run like gazelles and are known for winning races.

Showing up for the first time was reminiscent of my first day in the fourth grade when I changed schools. Everyone knew everyone else, where to go and what was expected. Once again I was the awkward girl with the strange name who was trying to look like she knew what she was doing.


All of the super speedsters come equipped with watches that beep incessently and track everything about everything, they all know the lingo and run at ridiculous speeds while still being able to talk.

I am just a girl with an iPhone and a “MapMyFitness” app.

Nearly every workout goes something like this:

  • Warm up run (20 minutes)
  • Insane speed intervals
  • Recovery run (10 minutes-ish)
  • Insane speed intervals part duex
  • Cool down run (20 minutes)

Everyone sprints until the computer on their arm notifies them it is time to jog for the allotted recovery time and then when the beeping starts again, they start running like their arses are on fire.

*Rinse and Repeat*

Three minutes into my first workout, I found myself wondering how I was going to survive. Their warm up pace felt like sprinting to me, but according the the website, which I had read earlier that day, sprinting was next. While banter about races, upcoming vacations and work swirled around me, I simply tried to keep breathing and not lose the group. I have been lost on a group run before, its embarrassing when a search team of speedsters has to come back to find you lumbering along unhurt, simply suffering from a case of being severely average.

After everyone else was warmed up and I was already half dead, we paused to go over the workout as a group.

“So tonight we are doing 2 minutes by 6 with 1 minute of regeneration, always slinky-ing back, 10 minutes of recovery and then 2 minutes by 6 with 1 minute of regeneration again and then we run back home. Your sprint should be at your half marathon pace. Any questions?”

Sure I had questions, but heck as if I was going to ask any of them.

  • Half marathon pace? What’s that?
  • How do you not fall over on the ice?
  • What happens if I pass out? I didn’t sign a waiver form. Shouldn’t there be waivers for this sort of thing?
  • The tightness in my chest … is this due to being out of shape, running anxiety or a combination of both?
  • What is this about a slinky?
  • Why am I the only one experiencing an extreme gravitational pull on her Lululemon pants?

No problem. I got this.

The fated words I usually utter prior to something ridiculous, painful or epic happening.

  • Luckily I kept my big, fat mouth shut for the the first workout.

There is an art to looking smart, just don’t say anything. While they sprinted ahead at whatever ‘Half Marathon Pace’ is, I simply ran fast and tried not to lose sight of them, knowing I could not do this for more than 2 minutes; 21.1 kms was completely out of the question.

Then we did that 11 more times with a ‘regeneration run’ in the middle of the torture.

Regeneration RunA painful gait associated with leg trembles, wheezing noises as your lungs search for oxygen molecules and bewildered thoughts of rain despite the cloudless sky as sweat drips off your eyebrows.

Somehow I made it through to the end of the workout and was more than happy to jog at a Donloree approved pace back to the Fast Trax shop.

The downside of looking smart – no one tells you anything.

All the speedsters were waiting at the top of the last hill for the last runner, which happened to be your’s truly.

  • No runner left behind … or something.

I was simply trying to make my legs continue to turn over while going up the hill which is stressful without fourteen pairs of speedy eyes watching the horizon for your long awaited arrival. At the top, all I wanted to do was bend over at the waist and work on getting air into my lungs. My arrival cued a celebratory circle of fist pounding followed by sprinting the rest of the way back to the shop.

Somehow my jello legs and I made it back without losing the group completely.

Yes. I was the woman leaning on the light post at the traffic stop; sometimes you can’t will yourself to stay upright and require additional help in whatever form you can get it.

Being the worst person in a group of elite athletes isn’t the worst thing in the world; maybe some of their speedy superpowers will rub off on me.


The path to being good at something is choosing to accept being horrible when you start.

Only up from here … right? 

Back To The Basics

The other day one of my crazy, fit friends sent me this text …

Oh no … I have a love / hate relationship with epic goals.

My immediate reaction was to respond with, “No! Are you crazy? I hate running … Yes, ok, when and where do I sign up?”

  • Do not fear, an epic commitment to spend half of my life running over the next few years has not been made … yet. 

My absolute favourite way to compete in races or fitness adventures is with very little notice and no specific preparation; competing just because I can. Planning to not plan is a thoughtful response to my incredible ability to over train and over do things. If I am completely focused on training for something, its annoying. I have even been known to annoy myself, which in and of itself, is quite the feat. And then after being very annoying, I get injured and all of the focus and discipline becomes null and void.

The ‘Why the heck not Half Marathon’ Approach.

I decided to run my first half marathon the afternoon before the race. Not having anything better to do on that particular Sunday morning and my need to do interesting things led me to swing by MEC on my way home from the ritual Saturday morning after run coffee and pick up a race bib.

Carbing up, tapering, water loading, myofascial release therapy, pre-running of the race course and all other preparatory things which real athletes do prior to a race were not done. There was no time. I was running 22.1 kms in 14 hours and I probably needed a good 8 hours of sleep.

I simply did what I always do before a long run on the weekend — the exact same thing I had done the morning before to run 16 kms with the girls – sleep, coffee, water, a small breakfast and then run.

I am a very average athlete. In a pack, I am in the middle and if I stand out stand out in an athletic crowd it is from my ability to get injured or have a clumsy near death experience, which, let’s be honest, is rather ridiculous.

Some days I wonder if I can even call myself an athlete … the answer to this question and many other fitness ponderings came in the form of a book passed to me by one of my gorgeous, blonde running friends.

Nerd + Fitness Hobbiest = Woman who reads fitness memoir-esque books.

Born To Run

It’s true … I have been known to haul books around the weight area for an hour so I can read while cycling after I am done training …

Deep within the story woven throughout the pages of Born to Run, I found myself sighing a deep breath of relief; every person on the planet is designed to run.

  • I know, deep thoughts with Donloree …. Yet how often do we simply dismiss the obvious?

Being the hilarious humans that we are, we overcomplicate and spend a gazillion dollars on something that is woven into the fabric of our DNA. When taken back to the basics, simply put, we are meant and built to run.

The ultramarathon query came to me while I was armpit deep in the story and becoming highly curious about my potential as an athlete.

Reading the book I remembered that inside of me there are the makings for a fit, capable and skilled athlete and that I need to point myself in the direction of the things I want to do with my fitness adventures and simply LIVE and TRAIN to the best of my ability.

Every. Single. Day.

For me, fitness isn’t about training for the next race, hike or epic adventure I decide to try, rather it is about living a good life and having the option of climbing to the top of the mountain to see what I can see.

An average week of training for nothing in particular at this juncture in my life looks something like this:

  • Monday Evening – Running hills
  • Tuesday Lunch– Training back with sprints
  • Wednesday Lunch – Training chest and arms
  • Wednesday Evening – Running intervals
  • Thursday Lunch – Training legs
  • Thursday Evening – Possibly a shorter run or a hike
  • Friday – Whatever the world I want to do or not do …
  • Saturday – Long run or bike ride (spring, please come soon!)
  • Sunday – A run, hike, training or long bike ride … depends on how I feel


I am surrounded by amazing athletes; people who can literally run circles around me while barely breaking a sweat while I wonder if my next breath will be my last.

For anyone who doesn’t have an active life, they want to die looking at my schedule and for the people who run circles around me … they laugh at how easy I take it week to week.

As annoying as it is to be one of the slowest people in a group of fitness fanatics, it causes you to go past what you think is possible and grow your capacity.

In the whole scheme of life, it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. It simply matters that you are moving and pointing yourself in the direction of where you want to go in the long run.

Right, that pesky ultramarathon question ….

Let’s be honest, I am probably not going to run an ultramarathon, but I also don’t need to answer the question for quite some time. Until an answer is required, I am going to be out there kicking my own ass on a daily basis and training hard while going back to the basics.

My fastest times running, biking and hiking were when I was simply doing it for the fun of it; enjoying the race against public transit while riding 20 kms one way to work, running with friends who were doing longer, faster distances and hiking all over the Rockies because there are things to see and experience,



In a world where boredom creeps in faster than a cold snap up here in the subarctic, we are quickly disillusioned with our inabilities rather than delighted with our abilities. If you want to open the door up for things such as running an ultramarathon, biking across a few countries in Europe, hiking tall mountains, doing things you never thought you could do and seeing parts of the world that very few people get to see, you need to choose the path of doing hard things and embrace it.

To be able to sustain a decent fitness level in a world where you get paid to sit takes purposeful action and discipline. You must move past the ‘train for a race’ mentality. Too many times we focus 16 to 20 weeks of our lives and make extreme diet and activity changes so we can run a race or wear a piece of clothing and then once its been checked off the list the reward is going back to the sloth-like activities which got us into a place of requiring an extreme life change.

Trust me. I know. Anyone who has dieted and competed in a bodybuilding show knows exactly what I am talking about; completely and utterly ridiculous.

  • Been there. Done that. Bought the bikini.

Learning to be ridiculous in the right kinds of ways.

Training because you want opportunity and the option to say yes to something when it comes is harder than the narrow focus of training for a single event. There is no end in sight, there is just the next day of training, eating well and fully showing up for yourself in your own life. There is no finish line, no medal, no one on the sidelines cheering you on; there is only you.

Once you realize and accept that life is always going to be hard in some way, you suddenly get to choose which hard you’re going to have – regret and pain or discipline and focus.

Swimming through life.

Swimming in open water, you quickly realize how different it is from swimming in a pool.

  • There are no lines 12 feet below to guide you.
  • The water may be anything but pristine.
  • Shoreline quickly disappears as you set out.
  • At some point, you are in the middle of nowhere trapped between the start and the finish.

In order to get where you are going, you have to keep your head down, swim with good form and then look up every once in awhile to ensure you’re still swimming in the right direction.

Course corrections are often required and good form is always required.

Life is in the open water.

Point yourself towards where you want to go and use good form. When you get to the tricky part where you can’t see the start or the finish, keep going with confidence because you are doing all the right things to get to where you want to go.

Every morning when you wake up, ask yourself a few good questions:

  • What do I want?
  • What’s not working?
  • What must I do today?
  • What needs to change?

After you are honest with yourself, and only after you’re honest with yourself, lean into your day and live in such a way to honor your answers. Go to the gym, have the hard conversation with your boss, book the appointment you’ve been avoiding, dig your bike out from the back of the garage, tell your family what they really mean to you, quit something, open up a blank page and start writing, say yes to something you want to do, wear the sassy heels, get rid of things you don’t need, stop deciding you can’t, be gentler with yourself or simply roll the window down and sing along with the radio at the top of your lungs.


Above all, avoid choosing the easy route get good at doing hard things and run, cycle, train, swim, stretch, swing a racquet … move your body and sweat. Training your body gives your mind permission to expand and you will be surprised at what you accomplish.

Go ahead, surprise yourself, I know I will.

How To Combat A Severe Case Of Some Day-itis

There is always tomorrow to do things, right? 

Sure …

If you are anything like me and 99.985824% of people in the world, you have a ‘Some Day List’. The items on this list are the things that you will accomplish one of these days, when you have the time and life affords you the luxury of nothing pressing, emotional space and money to do all the things that you want to do.

  • Stop laughing!

Whether your Some Day List is written down or just in your head, I have no doubt it gets randomly consulted and is rarely prioritized. I know for myself, my Some Day List usually runs through my head when I am overtired and unimpressed with my extremely responsible ways.

Execute on whimsy.

The adult in each of us tends to take over every morning when we wake up and keeps us from throwing caution to the wind and being completely irresponsible, which is good … MOST of the time.

The ying to the to yang of responsibility is whimsy; last minute, not fully formed ideas which involves figuring it out as you go, doing something you don’t know how to do and having all sorts of shapes and sizes of adventures.

Last week on Thursday, it was decided, “Mountains on Friday!” After all, ‘hike to the top of a snowy mountain in winter’ is on my very random list of things I would like to do some day and the weather promised to be glorious. A hotel was booked, skis packed and the gas tanked filled.

Within 53 minutes of finishing all the requirements for my clients, my bags were packed and nothing but the open road laid ahead.

Canmore February

Somehow, being in the middle of nowhere and quasi snowed in was exactly what was required.

Due to the risk of avalanche hiking to the top of a mountain was ruled out. (Note: death by avalanche while hiking to the top of a mountain is not on my Some Day List.)

Even in the summer, it is hard to alpine hike many places in the Rockies, but I was willing to try if the snow pack and conditions aligned because the list of mountains and hikes which need to be explored and summited seems to be never-ending.

Mt Rundle Canmore

The snow was up to mid-calf and made everything stunning. Two days of hiking through forests and trails with views like this was incredibly rejuvenating.

Carpe the snowy diem.

Exploring frozen waterfalls, hiking through snow drifts and x-country skiing on a run that changed on the course from a green run to a blue run without notice filled the weekend. Mountain air, ginormous breakfasts, coffee and belly laughter is just what I needed to remind me that life is happening now, not possibly tomorrow or next year.

Donloree xcountry skiing

Serious?! How does a green run suddenly become blue when there wasn’t a new trail introduced?!? As you can see,it made my brow furrow, but happiness won the day.

I am constantly teased about my organized ways, but as lame as it sounds, it is a good idea to schedule in time to be spontaneous.

Or put it another way which sounds less OCD and is more socially acceptable, be purposeful.

  • However you need to frame it, just do it.

In the midst of my running away for the weekend with only 19 hours of notice given to my real life, I ran across the #SomeDayInFeb Project. Reading through the short front page, I can’t help but agree; life is distracting and spins faster and faster every single year you are alive. It is easy to find time for meaningless things and we rarely make time to do the things that matter, the things we want to talk about when we are old and our brains are trapped in bodies that don’t move like they used to.

Why can’t ‘some day’ be today?

Being the list maker that I am, I sat down and starting capturing the random ideas rolling around in my head. After 12 minutes, my list was growing long and nothing of consequence was really on it. Most of the things on my 12 minute old list simply require action and a few moments of focus to tip my ideas from possibility to reality.

One of these days…

  • Go flamenco dancing in Spain
  • Cycle through through a country in Europe
  • Take a hot air balloon ride (if my fear of heights can handle it …)
  • Drink wine and eat chocolate while star gazing in the middle of the night out past the city limits where the only light is from the moon and the stars
  • Hot yoga
  • Paint something red
  • Complete a big, snowy hike up a mountain
  • Comedy — do stand up
  • Cello lessons
  • Skinny dipping
  • Go on a safari
  • Pet a baby cheetah or lion
  • Hike the Grand Canyon, Red Rock Canyon, Moab … the list goes on and on …
  • Swim in a tropical waterfall
  • Hug a koala bear
  • Travel to every continent
  • Walk on the Great Wall
  • Publish another book or twelve
  • Let baby turtles go free into the wild
  • Catacomb tour
  • Compete in a mountain bike race
  • Run in a mountain trail race
  • Go caving
  • Move to Europe for a few years
  • Paint a painting and hang it in my house (it has to not be horrible)
  • Spend time in the rainforest
  • Travel – the list of places is endless

Thinking through some of the random ‘some day things’ that I have already done, I smiled and happiness once again won the day.

It is fun to admit to people that I have catered a wedding, am able to do plumbing on weekends and evenings, glued a bedazzle suit to my arse and competed in a bodybuilding show, eaten dinner in India with a tribal family where we used giant leaves for plates, run a few half marathons, published two humorous books and designed and installed a 600 tile backsplash for my kitchen and hand cut every tile … to name a few of the random adventures I have had along the way. Yes, I am completely ridiculous, but ridiculous makes for a fun life.

Who doesn’t want to have more fun in life?!

What do you want to do with a few moments of focus and some good, old fashioned action? What are you doing ‘some day’?

**I apologize for any sideways pictures. “Some day” I might figure out why Wordpress publishes them sideways after I fix them and make them right side up. hah!**