dis-cov-er • verb: to see, find or become aware of something for the first time

Discover Your Wounds

In order to nurture yourself properly, you need to discover areas in your life that need healing. Although I hold no degree in psychology, counseling, or psychiatry, I’ve lived long enough to know that anyone over the age of ten (and many times younger), needs healing of some sort. Let me tell you about a wound that kept me from enjoying physical activity for a long time.

My freshman year in high school about did me in. I came from a very small elementary school (five kids in my 8th grade class) to a small private high school. The majority of freshman hailed from a larger, more popular elementary school. The girls from the other school, especially seemed to hate me.

It could have had something to do with the most popular girl dumping her boyfriend after eighth grade graduation. He flirted with me the first month of school (I won’t lie, I flirted right back) and asked me out to a school event. The week before the event, he unasked me, and ended up going with his ex-girlfriend.

This event set off a series of hate notes from the girl’s besties. PE class seemed to serve as their special taunting ground—they could make fun of me with impunity because I lacked coordination and because the clueless gym teacher did nothing to stop them. Fortunately, I had enough friends in other classes to keep me from feeling totally ostracized. My perception of myself as un-athletic and klutzy has remained to this day.

When I think back on my early childhood, I realize that I did have coordination and grace—after all, I took gymnastics and participated on a tumbling team. But that traumatic freshman year changed my perception of myself. I gave up on team sports of any kind, and told myself that I shouldn’t try things I wasn’t good at.

Community Made a Difference

Looking back, I can’t say for certain that I ever would have excelled at team sports if given a more positive environment. I do know that I struggled to find ways to exercise and stay healthy. Up until college, I got my exercise by horseback riding (and keeping the barn clean) and jogging (not regularly).

In college, I had my first experience of running and walking with friends. A core group of three (including myself) would go for a run four evenings a week when the weather stayed nice. Once it started snowing, we stuck to walking.

I loved spending time with friends AND exercising. It felt good to discover that I could go running with people who didn’t torment me or make fun of me. For the first time, I realized that exercise and community went well together.

Exercise and community go well together. #selfcare Click To Tweet

I still enjoy walking, hiking, and running with friends—but I have a pretty low tolerance for tardiness and cancellations. If someone stands me up more than once, I never bring up the subject of exercising together again. You arrive late? I might just leave without you (I may need to work on my attitude in this area). For the most part, I enjoy exercising alone (or with my daughters when they visit).

Discover Your Workout Style

Whatever you do, don’t let old wounds or misperceptions hold you back from staying active. By exploring your past beliefs, you can own them and change them. This knowledge will help you find a workout style that fits your personality and needs.

For those who successfully played and enjoyed team sports as teenagers, joining community leagues might fit the bill. Check with your local recreation center or YMCA to see if there are leagues you can join in your neighborhood. Pedro played on a softball league, and we enjoyed watching him and cheering, and another couple we know participates in a volleyball league.

I like competition (just not team competition), so I enter in the occasional race to give myself a goal. In order to keep moving forward on the path to physical wholeness, we need to discover ways to keep motivated. We need accountability—whether in the form of a friend or a gadget, or both.

Someone at work called me athletic the other day, and I didn’t correct them. After all, I run, I mountain bike, and I hike. I don’t have to perform like a world-class athlete to earn the moniker ‘athletic.’

And those mean girls from freshmen year? By the end of sophomore year, I had made friends with one of them. When I graduated from high school, the ringleader and I had become friends as well.

Nurture Yourself Takeaway #20—Delve into your past and perceptions of yourself as an athlete. You may discover old wounds that need to heal, or old patterns of thought that no longer hold true.


  1. Awww, Anita. My heart resonates with yours on the whole mean-girl thing. Girls can be SO mean in those growing up years. I still bear scars from some of my years of school. God’s done a lot of healing, thankfully.

    I was athletic as a teen, doing swim team and intramural volleyball. Sometimes, we need to try new things to discover what else we might have a knack for. Great post, friend!

    BTW, I could totally hear your voice as I read this! 😉
    Jeanne Takenaka recently posted…Discover: When They TalkMy Profile

  2. Interesting post!

    In school, my workout style was informally pugilistic; I beat people up, including teachers, and once, the assistant Head. I guess they kept me around as an example of their tolerance?

    Most of my life, I had to maintain a very high level of all-around fitness. It could be the difference between life and death.

    I still work out today, though it’s a brutally painful process, and very limited by what my body will allow without making me pass out in the middle of a set. I still pass out after the whole thing’s over, though. It’s mainly upper-body, giving me a distinctly simian look, befitting my longtime nickname of ‘Mongo’.

  3. i loved this anita. i found so many common points. my bad year was 8th grade. lots of bullying by mostly girls. small christian school where my dad was principal. i was also clutzy and unathethletc. thanks for some great suggestions along the way.

  4. Wise words!

    I played basketball in middle and high school. Wasn’t good. At all. But I loved the game. It was fun for me. I would love to be part of a chill, having a good time league, but, since I got sick, I’ve had to try new ways of exercising, things I would never have dreamed of before. Now I know that I love weightlifting, Pilates and, on my best days, kickboxing. The point is to do something good for yourself and have fun!
    Marie recently posted…31 Days of Feasting on Theology: KenosisMy Profile

  5. Glad you later became friends with those girls 🙂 I was never very athletic in school, always chosen last, yet I played tag football and softball in my backyard with my brothers. But I never tried out for anything in school. Now I get my exercise walking, taking karate and different workouts following along with videos.

    Thanks for sharing your story and for your suggestions! By the way, I think athletic fits you well with all the running and hiking you do! 🙂

    Blessings to you!

  6. Thank you for sharing that painful story! It’s hard to move past judgments like that. And you are the most athletic person I know!

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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