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Member Stories

Life-changing Experience

In February, a Facebook suggestion of a private group caught my eye. The group's picture showed its mission and purpose, which is quite unique. The mission states: Promoting women's sense of self-worth, their ability to determine their own choices, and their rights to influence social changes for themselves and others". It totally resonated with me, especially "their ability to determine their own chances". I said to myself, I already do that well. I wonder what this group will do to me if I join.

A little bit about me: I raised my two older kids as a single parent after their dad (after 11 years of marriage) left before my daughter was even born. I raised them alone until they were almost adults. Then, I CHOSE, when I was 50, to have more children, on my own, without marriage nor partner. Thanks to IVF technology, I was able to make embryos from donor eggs and sperm and gave births (via C-Sections) to two healthy, full-term babies when I was 51 and 53.

What joining the group did to me: I joined the group immediately that very day when I saw the suggestion by Facebook. I thought I was joining an outdoor "meetup" group to get on walks. Boy, was I wrong. All my life, I was very intimidated by space and directions. "North, south, east, west" never made sense to me. All I could comprehend regarding the map was "left and right". Before I joined the group, the last hike I was on was 11 years ago. It was a guided hike through "meetup". I have never taken my children with me on a hike. All places we have gone outdoors (other than our planned, heavily curated vacations) were as part of an organization, most prominently Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops. That changed almost immediately after I joined this group.

On my very first walk, a member showed me the app that tracks all trails guided by GPS. The group of women was so warm and welcoming (despite the fact that I was the only person without a dog on that walk) that it totally desensitized me about my fear of the outdoors. The group leader constantly encourages everyone to just get outdoors and post events to get company. In no time, I scouted out the trails that would fit into my schedule and are close to me and started posting my walks to the group's event page. Then it just happened. One walk turned into a routine of twice weekly morning walks that connected me to many wonderful women who make getting outside a priority. I also started to take my children out to parks and trails posted by other group members. All of a sudden, the extensive and wonderfully maintained PA park and nature system become part of my life, my children's lives. What a wonderful gift!!

LVWoA is a magically powerful group. It changed my relationship with nature and people and hence changed my life almost overnight.

— Lan Ma


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