A park bench bolted to the ground so it can never move while leaves are blowing about. Hmmmmm…

A few summers back, the hubs and I went to his Uncle and Auntie’s house for a summer garden dinner. What that meant was that most of the evening was outside on the patio surrounded by various gardens. One being a Disney garden so amongst the plants and flowers were Disney figurines bobbing in and out of eye sight. It was adorable. In fact, I left my Hawaii Donald Duck there to live among his peeps.

We had cocktails and Port (in fact, they opened and shared their very last bottle of Port bought when they got married. It was very sweet) and amazing food and lots of laughs. Matt’s Auntie is Greek and the Uncle is Lithuanian/Scot/European and together they make a very good mix. Both fun loving and two of the kindest people I know. It pains me that we haven’t made it back there since but the nearly 3 hour drive each way is enough to drag our feet a bit on getting another date on the calendar.

One of the more interesting caveats is that Auntie is a far left Progressive liberal and well, we’re not. Which means that we are subject to listening to her views but since we’re guests, we don’t get to share our rebuttal. Ah well, a small price to pay for grilled shrimp and steaks. The outrage of the day during our dinner was the topic of the Confederate flag. Auntie was outraged. And I mean OUTRAGED! How DARE they fly such a racist symbol of racism and oppression and fok them those backwards racists. Racism.

Uhhhhh, okay. I mean, were you outraged last week about the Confederate flag? Last month? Last year? Or were you just outraged cuz the media is telling you now to be outraged? Here’s my take on the Confederate flag…I give no shits. I’m not from the South. My great, great uncle and 14 cousins weren’t killed fighting for something they believed in under that flag. I have no dogs in this fight. I chose not to be outraged by things were I have no dogs in the fight. I whill say that while spending time up north in Connecticut (I actually spelled that correctly the first time out, I’m pretty proud) at a cemetery, there were headstones for sons and fathers who died on some Southern battlefield during the Civil War. I imagine there are many of those stones in the South also. It is extremely moving. I believe any time we can dig deeper and make issues personal, we find that we’re actually not far off agreement. Those headstones spoke for loved ones gone but not forgotten, no matter which flag they fought for. So if y’all in the South want to wave the flag that your ancestors fought and died for, well, you just do that and know that others won’t understand. Especially Greek Auntie’s in Chicago.

While I get very tired of the “Flavor of the Day” outrage, I’m pretty good at insulating myself from it. I guess there was some uproar about a snowboarder yesterday who won a gold medal and then dragged the American flag on the snow? Dunno. Like I wrote yesterday, I’m not getting dragged into the cesspool of the MSM and their Olympic coverage (see what I did there? Heehee.) I DID happen to watch the greatest Women’s hockey game of all time between the US and Canada. I wish Coach Stauber would have challenged the second goal but whatev. If these teams meet again in the medal round, it will be amazing!

But none of this, well very little anyway, has to do with my point today.


New Hampshire leaves

Leaves serve amazing functions in our world. There is a reason folks flock to thick forests that have clear lakes smack dab in the middle of them. We breath in the fresh air; we can be still in it’s thickness and enjoy the sounds of the water lapping about the lakeshore. Time can be lost sitting on the rocks of streams, should be lost actually. Very few things are emotionally satisfying as just sitting on rocks and listening to water while looking up into the forests. This is why the Steven’s Pass road in Washington is one of my most favorite drives. Sharing it with Oz a couple of years ago was incredibly special and I know I’ve told it before but I’m telling this story again…

While we were driving, I told  Oz to keep a lookout on where we could pull over and go climb the rocks in the stream. He says, “We can do that?” I says, “Oh ya.” Tell you what, seeing my 16 year old son who so often has maturity beyond his years  and tends to put the world on his shoulders play on those rocks like an 8 year old was one of the best moments of the entire trip.

Anyways. Back to leaves.

As most of us know (I assume nothing), leaves will eventually fall and die to prepare for the next batch in the spring (assuming you’re not an Evergreen.) This is why so many of us love the Fall season. Leaves are turning color which give tree lined streets a beautiful orangey/red-y glow. Leaves are raked into huge piles for the kids and dog to jump into or, if you’re lucky, blow into your fucknutt neighbors yard who spends his days trying to make his space leaf free.

Leaves blowing about can be fun to watch, even mesmerizing. But it always made me a little sad. The reality of another summer gone; no more cabin trips; no more softball games. Just cold and ice and snow for the next six months. It was always a little confusing for me because I love winter. Absolutely LOVE IT! I love the snow and the cold and, well not the ice so much, everything winter brings. Soups and shoveling (Mother Nature gives no shits that you have a meet on Saturday. You will shovel that foot of snow she dumped or be stuck inside.)

What I’ve learned is that I don’t dislike fall, I just don’t like the uncertainty of it. Will it be 70 degrees or 30? Will it rain or snow? If I rake today will I be done for the year (the answer to that is always NO.) Watching the leaves blow about in the winds chaos is unsettling. There’s no direction, no purpose. And if you’ve known me for more than 4 minutes, you know I have direction. Not even sorry.

Here’s the crux of the day, how many people do you know who allow themselves to live like leaves? Without direction or purpose? And this, my friends, is my biggest issue with those who choose to be outraged by the flavor of the day. You’re like leaves, just blowing about waiting to hit the next light pole to briefly stop and complain and move on. Distractions are easy and moving quickly to fill social media with outrage that, if you just give the wind a moment, the issue will blow over.

And it’s not just politics. It’s work; it’s training; it’s relationships. How many people do you see on Social Media who are trying the next best thing that avoids the most important steps of laying down a solid foundation? Diet fads; lifting timing schemes; training programs. Blowing in the wind just waiting to latch on, however briefly, to a cool thing until it becomes work and then moving on. I’ve fired people from my gym for this attitude. Get your uncommitted energy out of my gym. You’re full of shit. You live your life saying one thing and doing another. I’ve fired people from my life for this.

I cannot be around people who lack direction for a significant amount of time. To be honest, many Master’s Highland Games women are like this. (That’s going to sting a few folks. Sorry not sorry.) The Games are oh so fun and let me be so energetic and entertaining…until the 4th event. The fourth event (watch for it at your next Games) is usually when the leaves start falling. You realize that you probably have three more hours of this stuff and it’s only getting harder. You start wandering over to your tent and need to be called over for every attempt not even caring that your group of fellow throwers are waiting on your ass. You’ve taken your FB pictures and drank your scotch and really, that’s all we need to do for the day cuz this stuff is only supposed to be fun. If only we could rake you into a pile off the field and move on.

Non throwing related, our close friends have purpose. They have drive. We can disagree on politics but show an understanding of the other side’s reasoning and at the end of the day, politics are never more important than friendship. February has been filled with almost all of our closest friends and that, my friends, makes for a very good month. Quite honestly, never in my life had I ever believed we would be surrounded by such good people who accomplish so many amazing things and so freely share their gifts and love. Not one of our closest friends are leaves blowing in the wind. They are solid. They strive to live their best lives possible. I am so proud of each and every one of them.

It’s so easy to be leafy in our world because, mostly, our survival doesn’t depend on being driven. If mommy hasn’t kicked you out of her basement by your 30’s, well, you just know you’re going to stay attached to that teat until she’s six feet under. If you were the son of my Grandpa’s, you got a suitcase for your 18th birthday. Not even kidding. You’ve done well, now get out. No leafs in his bloodline. The Olympics? See, stupid NBC commentators, we don’t need to ask how it “feels to be there” cuz there are no leaves at the Olympics. It’s not like they woke up in November and said, oh hey, maybe I’ll just blow over to that speed skating rink and skate and then go to the Olympics. No. They’ve been driven for a very long time. OH! One of my FAVORITE moments in figure skating stupid interviewing came when Andrea Joyce asked the German woman pairs skater (skating in her 5th Olympics) what “current you would tell 18 year you on your first Olympics to make it better?” The Fraulein just looked at her blankly and after about 10 seconds admitted she didn’t understand the question. AJ went on to say, “I imagine experience helps” where the German visibly tried not to roll her eyes and said something to the effect of, “obviously.” Don’t like it when other countries athletes don’t fall at your feet in worship, do you NBC?

One of the hardest things in life is to stop. Just. Fucking. Stop. Stop blowing around in chaos and be still. There is no scramble, there is a plan  (then shut up about it and just do. My gawds, the amount of declarations made on social media boggles the mind.. I’d rather see video of someone curling their hair.) While leaves can be beautiful, structuring your life in alignment to theirs is a bad idea. You wonder how your life got raked into the gutter when you’ve been so busy at so many things. Stop believing that blowing about in life is going to get your goals accomplished. Stop looking at others wondering how they’re doing it and you’re not. Just stop. Breath. Plan. And then put on those blinders and become undistractable (totally a word.)

First I shake the whole apple tree, that the ripest might fall. Then I climb the tree and shake each limb, and then each branch and then each twig, and then I look under each leaf.

Martin Luther

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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