Name: Lori Mathews
Occupation: Enrollment and Volunteer Coordinator at The Women's Wilderness Institute, CO
A sandstone tower is my jungle gym. My slide - fluffy, white snow fanning out from my feet as I glide down a ski slope. My treadmill is a rocky, single-track trail winding between tree, boulder, tree. The playground right out the door of my Colorado home offers adventures that engage on so many levels. Your feet flex over rocks on trails that wind forever; smells of pine and juniper wave by with each step, eyes catch glimpses of dew glistening on blades of grass, you can taste the bitterness of cold air at 12,000 feet and maybe hear nothing but your heart beat or perhaps the symphony of birds as they fly overhead. Playing outdoors electrifies all of my senses.
In the outdoors, everything is dynamic. A clear blue sky can give way to storm clouds and challenge you to change route, speed up or slow down, act quickly. I love the rush of setting out on an adventure; preparing myself and also welcoming anything that may come.
Being outdoors has always been a big part of my life. I’ve spent entire days dodging seaweed in the cold waters at my grandparents lake house in Michigan. I liked to see how deep I could dig my toes in the sand and how tall I could make my drip-sand castles. For thirteen consecutive summers, I’d ride horses in open fields and through thick forested trails with friends at summer camp. A pivotal experience for me was setting off on a 30-day adventure carrying everything I needed in my 75lbs pack, hiking for miles up and over mountains and through fields of wild flowers. Butterflies would tickle the insides of my stomach anticipating the view as we crested ridge tops. And there’s nothing like being out of breath from reaching the top of a hill that you weren't sure you’d make save for you knew the views would reward any sore muscle.
Though I’ve had my share of solo journeys which offer their own unique sets of challenges and benefits, many of my adventures are with close friends, a partner, even a group of folks I just met and the interactions and communication within a group are all a part of the challenge. I've had some extreme highs and lows from my adventuring outdoors but all these experiences have allowed me to see what I am capable of not only on a physical level, but an emotional and mental level as well. As I have become more comfortable with my skill sets, sharing my passion for what an amazing classroom the outdoors can be became paramount.
For me, spending time in nature is not just a way to get exercise or release tension, it’s a lifestyle. For the past 6 years, I’ve worked in the realm of outdoor/experiential education sharing with others the benefits of the life out of doors and helping people explore the challenges, and rewards, of the wilderness. And the great thing is, challenge looks different for everyone! Someone might be challenged by a barefoot walk through grass, another might put a climbing harness on for the first time and feel what pocked granite is like, or it might be someone’s 100th summit. To see that moment where someone has pushed to try something new, to take a healthy
risk, is amazing.
I feel lucky and humbled each day I play outside. Whether I am pushing myself to run longer on a trail, climb higher and harder, or simply challenge myself to stop and look at the horizon. Through nature, in all its intricacies, I've learned how to not only listen to myself, but everything that surrounds me, to teach me how to overcome obstacles, how to appreciate simple beauty, and come back to myself.
About Women’s Wilderness:
The Women’s Wilderness Institute, a non-profit based in Boulder, Colorado, believes that if girls can become courageous and confident women, they will lead happier, healthier, better lives and be more likely to change our world for the better. Based on current research, TWWI programs teach a curriculum that taps into girls’ unique strengths and needs, balancing physical challenge with the development of communication and leadership skills that are crucial for girls’ confidence and self-esteem. On our women’s courses, we teach women crucial skills for building self-confidence and personal strength through technical competence. Every day in the outdoors we empower girls and women to find and use their courage to act and think for themselves, because we believe that without courageous and confident women, we’re missing out on 50% of the resources available to the world! Strong girls lead to strong women, and ultimately a better world.
Thank you Lori! You are a wonderful example of what it means to "LIVE LOVE LIFT". You have developed your physical and mental strength in a way that allows you to have meaningful relationships with the people and world around you. You are the true definition of FASHLETE!
Lori received this custom made, sterling silver necklace as a reward for being our December Fashlete of the Month. She chose these words based on her passion for the wild outdoors and her view on the benefits of taking risks in life.
"Risk. It can often have negative connotations: danger, hazard, threat. I would rather focus on what risk has granted me in life: possibility, opportunity, adventure. To risk is to try, and to trust. For me, taking a risk is to see what is possible and trust in my decisions." - Lori
For more information on the Women's Wilderness institute, please visit their website: www.womenswilderness.org