A few months ago, we were all stunned by the rescue of four children in Colombia, the only survivors of a deadly plane crash.  The children – ages 13, 9 and 4 plus an 11-month-old baby, were lost in the Amazon jungle for 40 days!

I was amazed to read how the kids had found a bag of yuca flour in the airplane and kept baby Cristin alive by feeding her the flour dissolved in water.  Apparently, they used a leaf to drip the mixture into the baby’s mouth. “It’s not just a miracle to have found them. It’s a miracle they were still alive,” Gen. Pedro Sánchez, the commander of the search and rescue team, told reporters.

We hear and read about survivors all the time.  There are, of course, the reality game show survivors, and then there are real life survivors.  Cancer survivors, suicide survivors, hurricane survivors, survivors of brutal attacks, accidents, and hijacks, and survivors of abuse – mental, physical, and sexual.

Why have I chosen this topic today?  Because it is that time of year, where our long Winter Challenge is almost coming to an end, and lots of decisions have to be made about prizes and awards.  For many years now, we have chosen a “Survivor”, sometimes two, after each Fitness Challenge – these women are Challenge members who manage to complete their fitness journey under very tough circumstances.  Situations always differ – sometimes it’s someone enduring a physical injury but manages to push through, and many times it’s someone who experiences great personal challenges, but who refuses to give up on her fitness journey.

We have been hosting Challenges for 13 years, and this Winter has been the very first time that I have felt like the survivor.  It has really been a tough few months, but I have also had the opportunity to really reflect on this whole “survivor” business…

I am convinced that, had it not been for this Winter Challenge and all the responsibilities I had to keep the ball rolling, I might have broken down.  During a Challenge, there are hundreds of small things that need to be in place every week.  The sign-in register has to be up against the sliding doors every Monday morning, the class totals have to be updated, body assessments have to be conducted, Mini-Challenge ideas have to be in place every two weeks, motivational videos have to be put together, montages of the members’ Mini-Challenges have to be compiled, classes have to be worked out, YouTube videos have to be recorded, edited and posted, social media posts have to be done three times weekly, communication has to be frequent with every Challenge member, and every member’s home workouts have to be allocated daily…

Don’t get me wrong!  I am not complaining – it has been an amazing journey, and a pleasure, as always, but it hasn’t been as easy as it usually is.  This is what I have learned, though:

We are all survivors of something, daily.  Lost jobs, broken hearts, illness, injuries, loss, worries, longing name it.  We.  Are.  All.  Survivors.

There are always going to be things that are out of control, things we wish hadn’t happened.  But if we can look at these experiences with appreciation for what they taught us, we’ll find it much easier to handle anything life throws at us.

Gratitude is a powerful tool that we can come back to again and again throughout our lives.  Others struggle just as we do, and this helps us to be a little kinder.  Everyone faces tragedies, trials, and obstacles in life.  That’s just part of life.  The way we choose to respond to life’s tragedies will determine whether we develop the attitude of survivors or victims.

In his book, “The Light you need”, John Mark Green writes: “You are not the darkness you endured.  You are the light that refused to surrender.”

When we experience adversity, it’s up to us to decide how we want to respond.  We can choose to allow it to define us, or we can choose to make it a defining moment.   

This morning I read about a Columbian University study that concluded suicides are contagious.  It noted that suicide rates increased in America for ten months after actor and comedian Robin Williams’ death.

But I know of something else that’s contagious: smiles.  I see it on Zoom every morning at 5.00 when we greet our online members, I saw it just this week when I shared a funny Facebook link  with a few friends -it’s this TV presenter who couldn’t stop laughing during a serious interview.  I see it when we share a smile with a member during a tough workout, I see it, and I treasure it.  I see it when we share a funny photo or message on our Bonniebraes family WhatsApp group.  The smiles pull me through, every day.  That, the strong belief that we were put on this earth because we are strong enough to live it, and the examples of inner strength I see in our children. 

Destiny’s Child sings:

“I’m a survivor,
I’m not going to give up, I’m not going to stop.
I’m going to work harder, I’m going to make it.
I’m inhaling, lasting, living…”

If you are here today, you are a survivor.  The choice is – victor, or victim?

Yours in fitness


2 comments to “SURVIVOR”

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  1. Colette Barnard says:

    Very inspiring words.

    • Mirna says:

      Thank you, Colette!