21 Gun Salute

What better way to head out of 2014 than by saluting it. All of it, the good; the bad, and the ugly. It’s almost surreal, how fast time goes. Last year at this time I was finishing up my first block of training, thinking ahead to The Arnold; a wedding; a honeymoon; a full Highland Games season; trips; family time; fun; off-season, and the holidays. And here we are. Wierd.

So, we salute you 2014. Overall, you were quite grand but some significant losses were had, I’m sure for many of us. And I suppose that’s life, perhaps it gets more pronounced the older we get. We appreciate a little more, and take the losses more to heart. Dunno.

Here’s our 21 Gun Salute to 2014 (no, there’s not actually 21 items. It’s a metaphor, get it?):

13. Friends

It is nearly impossible for me to grasp the amount of friends we’ve either made, solidified, leaned on, laughed with, cried with, hugged, kissed (Hans and Marcel do three kisses, others get two), and yes, have even found some to be disappointing when we relied on a friendship that wasn’t actually there in depth this year. There is an ebb and flow to friendship and I’ve found it’s best to roll with it. Be a good friend; grab hold of the good ones, and wish others a friendly farewell. You all are so dear to us and each of you hold a special place in our hearts. Thank you so much for being you and making our lives so much better for being in it.


But mostly, my salute is to my beautiful friend Veronique. She brought beauty; and love; and french cooking; and perspective we so desperately needed; and laughter; and giving; and an attitude in life that even when disease is winning it’s battle, you never conceded the war. I miss you. I am so proud of everything you stood for. The world is a little less pretty without you in it. Aloha friend.

12. Games


We have attended Highland Games; football games; LAX games; hockey games; soccer games; t-ball and baseball games, and I’m pretty sure there have to be a few others I’m missing. Suffice it to say, athletics is a part of our life and we’re better for it. I cannot say “this” Games or “that” Games is my favorite or least favorite because each one has brought us joy (well, the rain-out of Cherry Valley brought a little less joy;) and a little bit of pride for working towards doing well in all of them, for all of us. Cheers sports, we’ll see you as soon as tomorrow since it’s deadlift/bench day.

11. Travel


Again, to try to pick one destination as our favorite is completely impossible. Each trip, whether it be in the car or on a plane, is something we’re very fortunate to be able to do.

10. Food


I’ve written before how much we’ve enjoyed food around the world and right here on our old stove. Not tracking it for even a week has put me in a bit of a chubby bind but I won’t sweat it until the 2nd. Heh. That we have food and the ability to get it without too much trouble is a gift, and I’m thankful for it. To be so picky so that it fuels us (normally) over anything else is the biggest gift of all. Matt said it best today, “Poor countries don’t worry about a Paleo/Vegan/Zone diet, they worry about eating.” Word. That we have so much enables us to be high maintenance about it. Kind of sad fact.

9. Strength


I am still in awe of people who don’t value strength. What happens to us that it no longer (or never was) is viewed as a need. I’m thankful I found my way to having strength a priority and I can’t imagine what would happen in life that it no longer would be. I’m happy that I can have a good day in the gym, find a meet two weeks later and add 61 pounds to a total without much work. After my first block of off-season training I’m feeling better than I have in months and it has laid down the foundation for, hopefully, some great training and performances in 2015.

Strength. Don’t haz it? Get it. Please.

8. Programming

Since we’re talking about strength, let’s not forget effective programming. What works for you may not work for me but if you follow a solid program that keeps your ability; your life; your challenges and your needs in mind, you’re already far ahead of mindless random exercisers who have never been told how important setting a program and sticking can be.

7. Home

There have been times in my life where the question, “Where are we going to live that I can afford and provide a good home to my kids” was asked. We always found a way, through the help of friends or family looking out for us, to be safe but I do believe we were one of the lucky ones. It’s a cold world out there folks and if you want to sit on your thrones and judge those who are working their asses off and STILL can’t afford all of the wonderful things you have like food and gas for your car, you can GFY. I don’t want to know you. Every person has a story, usually that goes deeper than appearances. I read a story of a woman who drove her Mercedes to the county WIC pick-up. Know why? Cuz both she and her husband both lost their jobs and this was the only car that was paid for. They actually contemplated trading it in and taking a car payment on so people would stop judging them. Really. Do you know how hard it is to walk into a county WIC pick-up without added stress? I do. And I’m not going to judge anyone else on how they drive up to do it. Judge less, dig more. Homes are a gift, I’m thankful for ours.

6. The 50’s Plus


These ladies. The ones who have had fight and plead (maybe not plead but at least ask profusely) to play in the Games. The ladies who have been at this for so long, they can list every Games they were not allowed to throw at while we walk up without even a thought that we may not have been invited. They have done more for the rest of us who want to throw for records; and winnings; and championships than I can even imagine. I believe I heard that there were something like 45 women throwing just in the Master’s World Championships in Scotland this past September. More than ever. With many thanks going to Karyn and the rest of the 50’s plus.

Yo girls? You da man.

5. Marraige


May 10th will always hold a special place in my heart. Sure, it’s that day we got married. But it was more than that, so much more. It was the day where so many of our friends and family traveled to tell us how much they loved us. The Blessings we received that day are still so completely overwhelming. Each person had such a beautiful impact to the beginning of our life together and I’m so thankful for it.

And our marriage is perfect so that’s a bonus. Whut? Don’t believe me? Ya, you shouldn’t. Not surprisingly, challenges in relationships that are present pre-marriage don’t magically disappear. It’s work. Hard work, some days more than others. But it’s worth it. SO worth it. With each challenge comes clarity and closeness. I’ll take it, every day of the week thank you very much. I am so proud to be married to Matt and everything we’ve achieved together this first year. Yeah us, so far we’ve made it. Heh.

4. The Girls


I have so many wonderful pictures with the amazing women I threw with all season but honestly, the snow picture wins. It was freezing. It was wet. It was freezing. And yet here we are at the end of it all smiling. I bailed on the snow angel picture though, I was just so very cold. This was the first time I threw with many and I’ll just never forget them. I’m always afraid of naming names because I forget one and I feel bad but here goes; Mona, Michaela, Josee, Willow, Shawna, Stephanie, Tracey, Dawn, Sue, Ruth, Terri, Teresa, Victoria, Edie, Melanie, Karyn, Amy, Bonnie, Margaret, Katie, Elissa, Jessica, Michelle, Kim, Katie, Topaz, Annie, Candice, all of the amazing women in Scotland and every person I’m missing (this is why I hate naming names.) You all represent Highland Games in a beautiful light. Thank you.

3. Family


All of them. Really! Heh.

2. My Big Boy

preacher stairs

I still miss him. So much. Even though we knew it was probably coming, not having him here with us sucks. It just really sucks.

1. My Bigg Boy


Well, my Bigg man really. That we made it out of 2013 and into 2014 was a gift. That we’re rolling into 2015 together tonight is a joy. An honor and a joy. Love you Bigg.

Happy New year to everyone. I hope you’re safe; and fed; and warm; and can find some happiness, even when it’s hard. See ya next year…especially if you’re the Wanat’s cuz I think we’ll see you tomorrow. Heeheee.

Love and Aloha. Peace out 2014. You were grand.

Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.

Benjamin Franklin

About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to jep6095@gmail.com 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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