In all honesty, I did everything I could to get out of moving in PE when I was a kid. I hated exercising, I hated moving my body. In my defense--I had a lot of shame around it because, you know, the environment I was in or whatever. But the people who were pushing me to love it (my teachers) by moving weren't getting anywhere any time soon.
What I didn't realize is that the thing that I needed most to love exercising has NOTHING to do with exercising at all. The thing I needed most was....
My grandmother knew the species of every bird at her feeder. Buntings, orioles, warblers, you name it. I was always amazed that she knew these things, because I saw maybe one bird--and its name was bird. I guess I could have told you a robin was a robin, and a hawk was a hawk, but I didn't really consider what differences there were between the things until I moved to Colorado.
When I would walk my little dog, Woodford, along the inclined mountainside, there would often be these beautiful birds perched atop the yucca stalks tucked into the dusty earth. And they would cry out with a beautiful song, accentuating their gold breasts that were streaked with black spots and fluff their black horns. I had never seen these birds--I thought. So I researched like crazy to find their name and learn more about them only to find that they were meadowlarks, a wildly common bird in Oklahoma, where I grew up. I had grown up with these birds all around me as I drove through countryside and watched them on fences, I just didn't know to look for them.
When I went hiking soon after, I noticed a Stellars jay, akin to a blue jay, but with a jet black head and little white streaks near its eyes. It's a noisy thing, and they're fun to follow along in the mountains.
Soon I found myself at Red Rocks with a birding guide and binoculars, looking for literally any bird I could identify. I found swallows and wrens, spotted towhees and finches. I learned their names and I hiked to find them. I hiked more in the mountains if I could look for birds. When I moved back to Oklahoma, I noticed a part of nature that could keep me interested in the absence of mountains. I found yellow warblers and waterfowl. I found a nighthawk moving through the mist. I fell even more in love with nature. And I moved my body while looking for the new and the unexpected.
Have you taken to an element of the natural world that has motivated you to be healthier? Let me know in the comments below!
Taylor Vogel was a public school teacher, and isn't any more. She is the creator and host of the podcast, Now That I'm Not Your Teacher.