Aloha…and Then Some!


Sunset is a very special time. We can reflect on the day and let it go.

One of the bigger challenges growing up in an adopted Scandihoovian home as a Hawaiian was not having a connection to my heritage…or so I thought. Now, before I go on I need to state some facts for the record. First off, my parents have always made adoption a matter of fact. I feel very fortunate that I don’t have hangups about being abandoned or other issues that I’ve heard from adoptees. I was adopted. That doesn’t make me more, or less, special than anyone else. It’s just how I arrived at this family and I’m so appreciative for their honest and up front communication about it. Mom used to read me a book on adoption, it was one of my favorites for a while but I think I just liked Mom reading me books. True story.

And as much as I honestly LOVE the traditions and beauty of Scandinavian history, I did want my own. The funny thing is, I had some of it instilled in me without even knowing. For instance, we were lucky enough to have an up north Cabin that we would spend months and then weeks at as we got older. The lake is fed by (then) a still clean Mississippi river and you could see at least 20′ down in the clear water. I love it. Some of my favorite memories in life are those from the cabin. From sun up to sun down, I would want to be in the water. Hawaiian. We do love our water. It’s calming. It’s peaceful and I’ve already written about how it is my church when I need grounding.

I also had a (what I thought was) weird thing with stones. I wouldn’t take any pretty agates from Lake Superior if we found them. It annoyed my brother who always looked for agates. I’d find them and wouldn’t tell him about it. Why? Well, the rocks belonged to the lake, right? They weren’t for me to take. I didn’t make them beautiful through years of waves hitting them, the lake did. Hawaiian. Didn’t even know.


Sunrise was my favorite time. People are already in the water and the Island just comes alive each minute.

This carries over to throwing. Working with the implements (even the Hammers, we’re still getting to know each other;) instead of against them. Using good energy that has gone into them. Hawaiian. You can dismiss it all you want, don’t care. It’s meaningful to me and mine to own. So when the opportunity arose to actually go and throw on the Island, I was in.


And the day was incredible. As hard on myself I can be about not throwing better, I have to let it go with the sunset and just take it all in. Our group had so much fun and we flew through the events judged by Jonathon Low who called things very strict and very fair. Exactly what you want from a judge. He also has an excellent coaching eye and was hugely helpful to us throughout the day. It was an absolute blast and I’m so thankful for the experience.

But our Hawaii trip was more than just throwing. I realized at some point on Friday afternoon, while sitting out on our balcony and reading a couple of books I had going that I was more relaxed than I had been in years. Total relaxation. No anxiety. No stress. No expectations. No worries. Just sit on my balcony and read my books. Having the daughter there and her BFF was just as much fun as I thought it would be. Their energy is good and silly and funny always balanced out with some quiet time when they needed it. It also took them about 8 minutes to go “Island” and not worry about anything…


…except sunburns. I’d been given great advice by the Hawaiians I train to hit the beach earlier in the day and then again later. Stay out of the water and sun during the noon-3pm range and we’ll be just fine. When we visited family on Maui years ago, we got so completely fried on day one that we pretty much had to stay out of the water and sun the remainder of the trip. That sucked. Not this time, we were ready. We hit the beach for a while each day in (relatively) small amounts and came away bronzed but not burned. Shweet.

We missed the sunset on Friday having dinner with friends from Texas so our first was Saturday night. I have to say, watching Zandra’s face as the sun went down, seeing her look around and dig her feet in the sand and finally turn to me and say, “I wish I’d grown up here” was a pretty good ‘mom’ moment. She felt it, the Hawaiian in her calling to her heart. It was probably my favorite moment from the entire trip. Watching her get that connection with a heritage that is so far away from what she grew up with. I loved it.

Even though we had grand plans of things we were going to do and see, we didn’t. We hit the beaches constantly; enjoyed both local AND tourist food; lots of MaiTai’s and spent the bulk of our money at the ABC stores grabbing snacks and drinks to go for the beach. I finished one book and am getting through the other. I drank coffee off my balcony and really tried to pack it to bring it home. I eventually realized that this is the Hawaiian vacation I’d always dreamt of. Total relaxation; beach time; sunrise and sunset’s, and just not having to go anywhere. That’s what I wanted and I guess needed and that’s exactly what I got. Special time with the daughter and Mayce and witnessing some of the silliest things I’ve seen between the two of them. No cleaning, no cooking, no dishes, no being overwhelmed with the house, no laundry, no scrubbing, no turning my eyes away from so much to be done around here. Sit. Feel the sun. Swim. Read.

Feel the aloha…and then some.

Onipa’a (stand firm)

Queen Lili’uokalani

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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