My Happiness Secret

2018 has nearly come and gone, which means my 39th year on the earth has nearly come and gone.

Being born two weeks before the end of the year means, at least for me, that planning, goal setting, and dreaming of accomplishment starts early for the upcoming year. The planning is always a bit ridiculous, but what else are you going to do on the short, cold winter days, other than plan for the days when the sun never sets and adventure is calling?

And the reflections … those happen too.

It seems that every year has a theme, whether I chose it or not. The last year has been about acceptance, more specifically self acceptance.

What you want and what you get aren’t always the same.

Acceptance is an art form which requires perseverance to go through things when life hits hard, wisdom to know when you need to give yourself a break or keep pushing, courage to change things in your life that don’t work for you, and optimism to remind yourself of everything you have and what is possible.


  • Acceptance is anything but passive.

Oftentimes I wonder why I run, especially this past year. 2018 has been a year of injuries, plateaus, and inability, culminating in a fall on the ice that resulted in a severe rotator cuff strain. While laying on the ice in the dark river valley and trying not to pass out from the pain response, all I could think was, “I was just trying to be athletic … will I ever be competent at this sporting thing?” The tears on the 3 km walk back home were more about my inabilities than the pain.

Nearly half of my 2,250 kms this year were modified, trying to recover from injury and going slower than I wanted to go.

Yet where else can I practice the art of active acceptance like I can with running?

I am one of the most competitive people I know. I am also one of the least athletic people I know.

  • When you put these two things together, well, it is just funny. And deeply disappointing on a personal level.

A childhood full of reading books, studying Spanish, working at McDonalds after school, and baking ensures that my biomechanics are severely underdeveloped and my imagination and ability to create a future out of words is overdeveloped.

Now, if you need me to walk up and down mountains all day long and carry heavy things long distances without caring how long it takes, I am your woman. Unfortunately, this is not a valuable commodity in today’s world.

Like any good cake, it is good to have a few layers; let’s add in being a woman.

My Eastern European heritage and fabulous autoimmune disease ensures that I will never be thin and willowy unless I embrace an eating disorder. Trust me. About 10 years ago, I gave it everything, and I mean EVERYTHING to become society’s picture of perfect and it literally nearly killed me.

  • Enter the battle of ‘er’.

Thinner. Hotter. Smarter. Richer. Funnier. Cuter. Curvier. Fancier. Faster. Stronger. Smoother. Younger. Prettier. Bustier. Perkier.

Part of being a woman is not being told you’re not enough and fighting the constant losing battle of age and society’s expectation of perpetual youth.

The comparison trap is real, even when you’re 38, nearly 39-years-old.

The hardest realization I’ve had to accept as an adult is that I am severely average.

I am never going to win a race if more than 10 people show up; a sponsored athlete, I will never be. Giselle has nothing to worry about with me running around in the world in my size 8 pants. And I didn’t burst onto the scene at the age of 25 as an amazing writer who wowed society with her abilities which outshine her age.

Growing up and being told that you’re special and amazing is sweet … but suddenly one day, you just realize that it’s not true.

The gift of this realization and resulting acceptance was a deep relief that I’ve been living up to and expanding my potential even though it didn’t previously feel like it.

Through these past years, I have found the secret for happiness – be weird, lean into the chaos, and enjoy the ride.

Just accept your weird self and do not try to fit into any societal molds or measure yourself by other people’s expectations.

  • Do your thing, be great at what you want to be great at, and don’t worry about things that you aren’t great at if they don’t matter to you.

I will never be a domestic goddess or athletic superstar, but loving my people well, writing, being great at my job, experiencing wonderful corners of the world, and summiting beautiful mountains; these things I will be amazing at and do with my whole heart.

Suddenly the world opens up and you find yourself doing things that you never thought possible, living a happy life which results in not being able to think of one thing to put down on a ‘What to Accomplish Before I Turn 40” list because you’re already doing everything you had previously been dreaming of.

Donloree Angel's Landing

Grab the moments when they come and savour them. Getting to the beautiful places isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it!

Acceptance is a deep understanding of what is true and what exists, but it doesn’t mean you have to live in your current situation or boundaries.

Acceptance is the starting line, where you go to next is up to you.

Pushing, building your capacity, failing, getting up, smiling, and remembering that the whole thing is a journey and not a destination is active acceptance.

And perhaps that is why I run, simply to practice expanding myself so I can build my capacity to keep going, do more than yesterday, and build an amazing life. Even if I am only merely average to the onlooker, I am amazing compared to the Donloree of yesteryear and that is all that matters. I have spent the last few years doing incredible things with very special people and living a better life than I ever knew was possible and it all started with acceptance, a full heart, and open hands.

Practicing acceptance allows you get to grab onto beautiful experiences and live a great life because you’re not caught up in trying to change other people, complaining, or holding onto bitterness.

And yes, it is true, with a full heart and open hands, you are ready to receive and also lose. The fact that both happen isn’t important. What is important is how you manage through loss and gain; both require acceptance.

Donloree bike country road

When you find yourself in the country, smoked out of the mountains from the summer fires in BC, adventure can still be found. Happiness comes when you are where you are with your whole heart.

Accepting the daily struggle and finding the glass that is half full leads to having bigger glasses to fill.

And eventually you find that you can fill your glass past half full.

What if your glass eventually starts to overfill? What if you just get to be happy?