STOP.  And GO…

In Afrikaans we call it “’n kleintjie dood” when you hate something.  I suppose in English we can say something “ruffles your feathers…”  Certain Facebook captions have a way of ruffling my feathers…especially those ones that start with “Wanneer…

 “Wanneer die krag af is, dan braai ons…”.  “Wanneer Mamma op ‘n Sondagmiddag lus is vir roomys, dan ry Pappa Milky Lane toe.”  “Wanneer dit warm is, dan swem ons…”  “Wanneer Huisgenoot spog met ’n nuwe sjokoladekoek resep…dan bak ons”, ens ens ens.

Last week I saw this caption on someone’s Facebook page and was really intrigued – I thought this one was going to be different: “Wanneer die “Stop and Go” te lank raak…”  I was preparing myself for an inspirational read, but on closer look there was only a photo…of freshly painted blue toenails…Sigh.

…But the whole Stop and Go thing got me thinking, again.  It reminded me of last November, the week leading up to Zander and Mariné’s wedding – On the Thursday afternoon, Jakkie and Ronel got stuck for two hours on the road near De Doorns, when a heavy vehicle landed on its side, and blocked the flow of traffic both ways.  The queue was kilometres long and the wait seemed endless.  Luckily, we could mentally prepare my dad and Theresa, who were trailing a few hours behind.

I don’t think Ronel painted her toenails during that time they were delayed, but they all just had to patiently wait.   

Living life is a lot like travelling a highway.  Some days there are no rush hour traffic, no hiccups, and life is plain sailing, and some days it feels like we’re barely moving.  We all find ourselves stopping and moving throughout life – whether it’s when we’re travelling, standing in line at the store, waiting to be answered by an operator on a phone, or even at the drive-thru.

…Stopping and going is especially relevant when we are trying to build and maintain momentum towards achieving a goal or dream.  The thing is, we can try to avoid Stop and Go traffic, but it will find us at some point in our lives.  It will always test our patience because we have no choice but to move at the snail pace of the pack for an unknown distance, or endure the stand stills.

None of us are exempt from the tumult of sudden change.  What we all should remind ourselves of, is the fact that although we don’t have full control over when we experience Stop and Go traffic in our lives, we are in control of ensuring we reach our destination. 

But it’s easier said than done.  Only last week, one of our members who is suffering from a bad back injury she sustained at home during December, posted this quote on Facebook: “My body could stand the crutches, but my mind couldn’t stand the side-line…”

Difficult times or life challenges can have us feeling like we’ve lost our sense of direction.  Or that we’re stuck at a Stop and Go forever.

I think the Stop and Go’s have a way of reminding us that nothing in life is certain.  A fortnight ago I was jokingly remarking to Oiu – “Just don’t you decide to stay in Thailand, you hear?  We need you…”  And then she was gone before she even had a chance to leave.

For days on end life seemed pretty bleak, and I felt stuck and overwhelmed – I had to force myself to forget the last image of her, when I placed the white rose on the open coffin at the memorial service – her swollen face, the deep purple scar on her neck, and the R1 coin between her pursed lips (apparently that’s symbolic for a peaceful last journey).  I have stopped asking questions, and I’m trying hard, every day, to remember Oiu’s smiling face, and all the good moments we shared…

The famous Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, once said: “What you resist, persists.”   In other words, failing to embrace change might keep us feeling mentally stuck.  And if we are spending our energy on fighting what’s new, we may have a difficult time moving forward.

We all have experienced times when we struggled to fix, cure, overcome or demolish a crisis – whether it be a health problem, relationship crisis, weight gain dilemma, financial difficulties, or a bad situation at work.

In his book “Resistance to change”, Thomas Harvey urges us to give up fighting – no, not to give up TRYING, just to give up fighting.  He explains that the mind, body, and spirit are always seeking out ways to bring us greater happiness, fulfilment, and success.  But when we throw resistance into the mix, we tend to slow up the works.

What does this even mean?  And how would we know if we are creating resistance and slowing down our own progress?  He says it’s when you find yourself complaining about the same things, day by day. When  you feel like your life is on pause until the thing you want shows up.  When you fear that life will always be like this, and things will never improve. When you’re exerting a ton of energy trying to micro-manage some area of your life…

But:  Giving up the fight does not mean giving up entirely.  You can give up fighting AND still want things to change AND keep taking steps toward the improvement you want. 

And the million dollar question – How do you stop fighting your situation?  Harvey encourages everyone to first accept, that for now, your life is how it is.  To stop waiting for your situation to change before your “real life” can start. 

Your life is as real today as it will be once your body is healed, the relationship is fixed, or the weight is lost.

Find something, anything, to be grateful for.  Trust God, and trust life, to work out for you.  Trust yourself that you’re doing the best you can right now, and promise yourself that you will never stop learning and growing.

Steve Maraboli sums it up perfectly in his book “Unapologetically Yours”.  He says:  “The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward. “You must learn to let go.  Release the stress.  You were never in control anyway.”

So, next time your feathers are ruffled by a nasty Stop and Go situation, breath.  Show patience.  Don’t Quit.  Stay the course. 

Or paint your toenails.

Yours in fitness


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