Women Who Howl: Wild Wisdom With Lexi Dowdall

We recently interviewed Lexi Dowdall, a powerhouse personality, writer, skier and all around positive human. She shares her wild wisdom with us along with the fears she faced in order to jump full-time into her freelance career. You can follow Lexi’s stories and adventures on Instagram

Transferring your passion to your job is far easier than finding a job that happens to match your passion.” ― Seth Godin

Please describe your ‘day job’.

Just about a year ago, I was laid off twice in the course of 6 weeks, what a whirlwind, so many tears! In retrospect, it was the universe’s way of guiding me to find the courage to try freelance and contract work. My passion is storytelling and sharing an experience in an authentic way, so I try to find work that suits my desire to create content. I find that I have a lot more flexibility to pursue my passion for the outdoors now that I’m the boss lady.

What draws you to nature?

Growing up in Utah, all my friends went to church on Sunday and I would go skiing with my family. I guess in a way, skiing became my religion. The ritual of waking up early, dressing in special clothing, driving up the mountain, and literally finding myself closer to the heavens fed my soul. As a youngster, I didn’t understand why my family didn’t go to church, but I came to realize how alive my spirit felt, dancing among those mountains with two sticks strapped to my feet. As an adult, this has not changed. If anything, I am now more motivated to escape the busyness of modern life and connect with that primal, spiritual part of myself.

Why are you inspired to find yourself outside? 

The vast expanse of the Wasatch Mountains, a brilliant sunset behind the Tetons, a great horned owl floating silently overhead…these are the moments I savor.

I’m not particularly motivated to go out and climb the highest peak or prove myself to anyone, I just want to experience these quiet moments outside.

Oftentimes I want to capture and share that experience through photography and storytelling. You can view the stories I put together for my own pleasure on the Steller Stories app.

How have experiences in nature influenced your daily life?

I do a fair bit of backcountry skiing, in which you expose yourself and your ski partners to the terrifying threat of avalanches. The awesome power and indifference of Mother Nature has this uncanny ability to keep you humble. The insignificance of a human life in the face of millions of pounds of snow crashing down a steep slope causes you to remember the big picture and keeps your ego in check.

With nature as your teacher, what has been your toughest lesson?

I’m blessed with exceptional clumsiness, and when you add rocks, water, sticks, snow, bikes, skis, and rugged terrain into the equation, well…let’s just say it’s never dull. 
I fall. 
A lot.

But I keep crawling back up and pressing on. 
In this first year of exploring a freelance career, I’ve probably failed more than in the past 10 years combined. I’ve also pushed myself further and tried things I previously would have thought impossible.

I’ve now fallen or failed so many times that I’m not intimidated by failure anymore. I like to think that makes me dangerous. I’ve fought with my teeth bared and claws out, lost, and found myself still standing.

I now feel fearless, and I’m eager to continue hunting down the next great opportunity. Oddly, failure has given me the confidence to keep fighting for better and bigger goals.

How has spending time outside influenced your life’s path?

Since graduating college, I’ve always chosen jobs that provided me with the flexibility I needed to ski often. I wouldn’t say my career path has been lucrative, but my passion for the outdoors has absolutely shaped the road I’ve taken. I can meld my love for the outdoors within my work and I don’t have to build my life around a job. I build my job around my life.

What advice would you give to someone just venturing into the outdoors?

Take more snacks than you think you need. Always! 
But in all honesty, you should pack a hearty sense of curiosity and be willing to laugh at yourself. If things go wrong, just try to remember an inconvenience is simply an adventure incorrectly considered. That sense of humor you packed will help you enjoy and appreciate any challenge.

How do you howl often every day?

I strive to create or place myself in situations where I can capture stories and memories with friends. In crafting a tale and sharing these experiences with others, I hope to distill the essence of what gives meaning to my time on earth.

Photo courtesy, Jeff Bartlett, 2017. 

Photo courtesy, Jeff Bartlett, 2017. 

How has exploring the outdoors affected your confidence and inner self-talk?

Last summer I made myself a goal to camp alone. What seemed like a straightforward objective eluded me three times. Thanks to a band of voracious foxes, noisy coyotes, and my mom calling the police to report me as a missing person, I didn’t succeed until my 4th attempt. Camping alone was once one of the scariest things I could imagine. Once I completed my goal, I gained a degree of independence and confidence I’d previously lacked. The outdoors provide ample opportunity to test your mettle, get out there!  

Our everyday lives can consume us at times. What fuels you to live wild?

Stop. Think about what makes you smile, what lifts your heart, what feeds you. These moments don’t often happen in the great indoors behind a desk. Identifying a passion and investing in it is where I think fulfillment can be found. I’m happiest laughing with friends on a mountain peak and savoring the exaltation of speeding down snowy slopes together;

I’ve built my life around this. I refuse to live a life where skiing or connecting with nature would take a back seat. 

What’s your one piece of wild wisdom for our community?

When I think about confronting the myriad and complex issues that we all face, my initial reaction is powerlessness or despair. I realized this reaction is not particularly helpful, so I began channeling that energy into making small ripples. I spent last summer working for a non-profit land trust, for the first time in my life, I donated money to 3 different non-profit organizations this year, and I’m volunteering my time with a local organization to help uncover a stream in my neighborhood.
Think about how far a small ripple can travel… 
Imagine the storm we could create if we all made ripples. Find a project this week and start rippling! #LetHerRip

What book is on the top of your ‘required reading’ list for women?

Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, is especially relevant in our current political climate; it’s a gripping story reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984. For four years, I’ve been working on the BBC’s Top 100 list; I’m currently on book 97, but The Handmaid’s Tale has been one of my favorites on the list. If you don’t the time to conquer a book, take 20 minutes to soak up this TED talk by Amy Cuddy about body language and power posing. I’ve aced nearly every job interview since adopting the suggestions she offers in her talk.