Monday Bacon: Use Your Words


Last Saturday, I road tripped to the Chicago area and trained with a group of weightlifters in Tom Sroka’s gym. It was beyond awesome. Great people with great energy coached by a great coach. I could beat myself up about not heading down to train earlier, I won’t. I’m here now and as life allows, I’ll be back.

Lifters of all levels occupy the platforms and the organized chaos of a meet warm-up area that I love is exactly what to expect here as nearly 20 lifters share space in strong harmony. While there was no shortages of smiles and laughs, each lifter worked hard and implemented the changes Tom would cue. Lifts were made, lifts were missed and overall it was one of my most favorite training sessions to date. Personally, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that, as long as I stay healthy, ¬†training with Tom around these people will bring my lifting to another level. It already has. I’m stoked and so thankful.

Frankly, I needed it. I needed to be around people with focused goals and positive energy. With enough discipline and drive to show hard work can be fun without being distracting. I needed that. America has had a tough week. Another school shooting has brought out the social media warriors in force. And I’m over it. Children and their teachers died. That’s sad. Can’t we be sad without being angry? The parents and families of the victims, they (I imagine) will have plenty of anger to process over the years. My heart aches for them.

Frustrated? Yes, I’m frustrated but not angry. I’m frustrated that gun free zones still exist. I’m not going to share a meme about it, I can use my words since I’ve passed the 5th grade when we were taught to do so. I understand that there are a whole group of people who disagree and believe all guns should be banned. In all honesty, I like that Utopian notion that all people are good and any type of weapons are silly because we’ll just all get along. No more assaults; rape; murders; drunk driving/text driving deaths; bullying; accidental deaths; child abuse, or disease. But for today, no more school shootings. We get to send out kids to school with the main stress being is there enough money in the lunch account and did my kid hand in his homework (Oz went through a phase where he actually DID his homework but then didn’t hand it in. Somehow it made sense to him. I’m glad that phase is over)?

I don’t want to have to worry about him sitting in school utterly defenseless because the sign at the front door says that guns are not allowed on campus but then someone brings in guns to kill utterly defenseless children and staff. I don’t want to worry about that. But I do. It’s terrifying. Others who’s fears are realized are living with that today. That breaks my heart and at the same time, I’m so thankful that as of 9:30 this morning, my Oz is safe (mostly because he has school off for Presidents Day.) Those are the two feelings that are dominating all else, fear and thanks. Kinda confusing.


photo credit: Ansel Adams

Unfortunately, along with those (I believe) very honest and probably common feelings, is complete disgust.

On my way home from Chicago (no, Tom’s gym isn’t in Chicago per say but anything south of Kenosha gets lumped into Chicago. Not even sorry) on Saturday after amazing lifting and an awesome breakfast with my friend Heather (another lifter and absolutely stellar human being) I listened to the afternoon replay of the Dr. Laura show. One mom, barely holding it together (Dr. Laura is usually pretty stern with crying callers, since she let this one go I was immediately curious what was going on) whose young daughter was in another building on the Florida campus where the shootings occurred and was on lockdown for over two hours while they could hear screams from the high school building.

Let that sink in. There were students in other buildings on campus who listened to the screams of the older students while their doors remained locked and they huddled under their desks in complete fear. Defenseless. Are they next? What do we do. I want my mom/dad/anyone to take me away from this fear.

What does that picture want to make you do? Me? I just want to gather my kids and squeeze. I don’t want to attack others for a different point of view that I disagree with. I don’t want to share some useless, cruel meme on social media that is just useless and cruel. I just want to hold my kids. I want them to know I love them and there is nothing I’d do to TRY to keep them safe. Not unusual most likely.

Among other pieces of advice for this mom, Dr. Laura told her to make sure she and her daughter and the rest of the family attend public memorials for the students. As many as possible without overwhelming her daughter. Because in times of senseless tragedy, we need each other. We need people around us who also hurt and can’t make sense of why this is happening. Not to place blame or further a political narrative, but to further human contact. Hugs. Making posters. Laying down flowers. Catching a glimpse of a grieving parent across the crowd and sending them your love and sadness.

That’s how we make things better. Because we are stronger together (sound familiar?)

Geez, I needed to hear that. The two days prior to this my social media was inundated with social media warriors. Equally from the NO GUNS EVER! crowd and the WE NEED GUNS, IDIOTS! crowd. Rhetoric. Useless. The opposite of pulling together to grieve and lifting each other up (you’re going to have to find a gym like Sroka’s for that.)

Mass texts were sent by progressive liberal Auntie’s declaring why guns need to be banned. A meme was shared by a lifter acquaintance (that is no more) that perhaps if “school” was replaced with “uterus” then republicans would actually care about the deaths. By the way? As a voting republican most of the time who is also pro-choice, that was very sick. Sick. It is dehumanizing and sick. I never need to know someone who takes energy to share such things. Ever.

I read an account of a father and his wife whose daughter was shot and killed. There was a picture on social media of him holding his daughter’s picture asking for any information since he was unable to contact her. Because he was wearing a ‘Trump 2020’ shirt in the photo, multiple people commented on the picture that they hoped she was dead since he was a Trump supporter. That happened. That actually fucking happened. Well, congratulations people, she was dead. Feel better?

Children died. Teachers died. Others huddled in fear for hours. We don’t need to spread more hate. We need to prioritize actions and use our words. If you believe guns are necessary on campus’ to avoid further mass shootings/assaults/rape (something I believe in) then what can be done to further that reality on the political side. Real things, not sharing stupid meme’s. If you believe all guns should be banned except those by the police, then what are you doing to fight the “gun lobby” other than sharing useless meme’s?

Can we try both? Arm security guards and those teachers who legally conceal and carry and see what happens when a shooter tries to enter their building with mass death being the objective? For one year, just try it. On the flip side, stop protesting when an officer shoots an unarmed criminal posing a threat to the office or others and killing them is the quickest option to ensure the safety of others. Headlines of “Police shoot unarmed black man” will quickly go away because at the end of the day that’s what the goal was. Taking guns away from citizens and keeping them only in the hands of police/government. Can we try that and see how it works? Action is far better than hateful meme’s, at least I believe that to be so and it’s my blog.


photo credit: Ansel Adams

I’ve talked before how careful I guard the energy around me. I am diligent in surrounding myself with good people who are driven and thoughtful and smart and interesting and good. Notice, I didn’t say “people who agree with everything I say.” I don’t do that. I do surround myself with people who value friends more than points of view. At the end of the day, if our points of view are so vastly different the friendship may fade. That happens. I’ve been close to people who’s food views are so opposite of what mine are that I walked away. I can’t watch as people with food sickness push that same food sickness onto their children and know that those children (especially the daughters) are going to spend the next 40 or so years battling the same food sickness. I’m not going to remain an unwilling participant simply because we’re friends. I walk.

Late last week, I realized that the same must be done with social media. I don’t need to agree with everything I see on social media but I do need to make sure that the energy it brings falls in line with what I demand of real life. Not always positive, but never cruel. Not always silly and fun, but never demeaning. I can do that. Also, I have a blog so I can use my words. No meme’s, just words. And Ansel Adams.

A good photograph is knowing where to stand.

Ansel Adams

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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