Friday Jams: Lapin A La Cocette

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in it’s deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.

Rainer Maria Rilke

The first time I saw V, she walked into WFAC with skirts flowing and perfume wafting. Who. Is. This? And why the FUK does she wear so much perfume?! I was in the middle of a training session and the ladies I was with also wondered what was going on. See, women didn’t just waltz into WFAC and ‘rule the skool’ as she did. Obviously, she was somebody. But who?

After a session or two of her training, I started talking to her. Well, her name was Veronique and she was French. Like, from France. Accent and all. And though her long, flowing jet black hair was beautifully styled and all of her jewelry stayed on during her training sessions (a far cry from stinky t-shirts and shorts of the normal WFAC crew), she was obviously down to earth and here to make friends. She had history with many folks, and a Cancer scare that was trying to poke back into her life. She was happily married to her musician, teacher hubby and raising her two boys (one small, one large, both unique and so reflecting their mama.) We would chat here and there in the gym and then her French Mama came for a visit.

Now, if I’m remembering correctly, her mama was in her late 50’s. Maybe early 60’s. I DO remember that she was drop dead gorgeous and OOZED sex appeal. Like, Sophia Loren sex appeal. Is it wrong to be jealous of a 60 year old? Hope not.

Anyways. That visit was kind of a turning point. I was going through some things and V was like a lighthouse. I, along with so many, steered our ships towards her safe light and unloaded. She (and her non English speaking hot mama) told me what I NEEDED to hear to steer on the correct course (whereas so many “friends” tell us what we WANT to hear.) Not V, loving truth, even in beginning friendship.

She was there for my and Bigg’s beginning. Even one night making Rabbit Stew. I texted him and said I’m at V’s and she’s making rabbit stew. He texted back saying I have awesome friends. Yup. I do. But this fucking cancer thing…always lurking in the shadows. She was being treated, but all of her treatments were “just doing what they have to do.” She never showed fear. She never showed defeat. Just motions. Going through the motions of cancer and living life to it’s absolute fullest. Good laughs; good friends (she has so many); good wine and food; good times. So many good that it amazes me to have so many V stories in such a short span of time.

She was very closed lip’d on what was going on with her illness. Is it serious? Is it not? Is it gone? (We thought so last October, it’s one of the first times I cried in front of Matt. Thinking she was free and clear. I was so thankful I couldn’t help but let the tears flow.) That was around Halloween.

And then November happened. Matt and I were in a downward funnel of shit. Not good. Stuff building and not knowing how to stop until a night occurred where it got out of hand. I let her know things were bad, please send strong thoughts. And she was on it. STOP IT! You two love each other. You must forgive. She was one of the few who said what we NEEDED to hear, not what others told us cuz they thought we WANTED to hear. No “circling the wagons” to keep us shielded from the idea that we may need to change; no “I’ll give you a bottle of Whiskey to make it all better and send you on your drunk and angry way.”  Truth. Real. Loving. And it saved us. She. Saved. Us.

And now she’s gone. I could say she left this earth today but the clock has turned and it’s suddenly tomorrow. A day where she hasn’t been with us. Not a good day.

Paul McCartney


Enjoy your weekend. Please. Honor the good. Dismiss the small stuff you can. Life is bigger.

About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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