Our Plan A to makes our dreams come true is to win the lottery. The problem? We forget to buy tickets and just go to work.

I was in my 20’s when I landed my first job with a 401k employer match. In fact, it was a really good match and I took advantage of it. My understanding it all resembled how I understand the Cloud but still, I took advantage of it. I didn’t think of it much. I was too busy grinding to make a life for me and my twins.

I was a night shift front desk operator for a company that made computer suspension parts. I worked 3-on-2-off days just like production but instead of their 6am-6pm hours, I worked 7:45pm-7:45am to cover shift changes and be cheery when the rest of the world arrived between seven and eight a.m. Sometimes my evenings included straightening up the conference rooms and if I were super lucky, there were meetings held that included food so I got some snacks to munch on throughout the night (I recently read an article on how many restaurant workers actually eat off the plates of customers who’ve left food when they bring them back to the kitchen. Didn’t gross me out at all, been there.)

Over the seven years I worked at Hutchinson Technology, I grinded my way up to a very sweet production planning position that I was incredibly proud of. It also gave me 7 years of experience working with Engineers. Ever worked with a bunch of Engineers? Then you get me. They’re a handful. I married one too so jokes on me. (Not really, but actually some days,  ya.)

In one of my planning jobs, we overhauled and implemented our shop stock system and it was 9 months of lots of hours and no overtime paid out. So I’d bank my hours and take off here and there on Friday afternoons but mostly those hours just hung out on a piece of paper.

At some point, our department hired a middle manager (just what companies need right? More middle management to really tie the room together.) Well, Bob (srsly, his name was Bob) looked at that piece of paper of my OT hours and quickly told me that I would only be allowed to take an hour or two off that time off per month and he’ll let me know when that will change.

Uhhhhhhh, you can imagine how that went. See, I had invested that time in making sure the company was successful. Our deal was that I could take that time off when I wanted to assuming that it wouldn’t jeopardize the project. I had spent weekends at work with my toddler twins hauling their little activity boxes around and worked while they sat quietly and played (one Monday when I came in my boss asked if I’d brought the Z’s in with me that weekend while I worked. I got pretty nervous and asked if they’d bothered a few others who were there working and she said quite the opposite, my co-workers couldn’t believe how quiet they were. Score one for mom and her activity boxes.)

The point of all that is, I’d invested in seeing this project turn over without drama and I’d succeeded in doing that. So when it came time for Bob to sign off on a Friday afternoon so I could take my Z’s fishing and he turned it down, well, that didn’t go over as well as he thought it would. Truth be told, Bob didn’t last long. Not my fault, things were a little too fast paced and he was near enough retirement that when he was encouraged to be done with working he jumped on it.

How I work is this, I’ll invest myself in things I believe in. I didn’t invest myself into High School. Barf. I hated it. I’m kinda surprised I graduated. I mean, I went and everything, most days. But I hated it. I hated most of the people; the games; the teachers; the school work, everything. So what I do, sign up for four more years in Nebraska. I earned a stellar student loan and a few friends I still have. Yeah me.

I’ve held jobs I invest myself in and some I haven’t. My Taco Bell career lasted two days. I just couldn’t. My Mills Fleet Farm career lasted nearly five years during high school and college and I actually loved it. Still do. The Mills family has sold the name and we have a shiny new Fleet Farm west of us and I’ve been there at least five times. Still love it. I mean, you can buy MRE’s; Carhartt; a gun; a Mickey Mouse blow up Christmas dealio, and some candy. What’s not to love?

I’ve invested myself to work hard for some people and some people I quickly told to fuck themselves (some took longer.) Once I realize that everything I’m investing into their success isn’t reciprocated, well…


You know how this goes, yes?

I’ve been lectured by some people who are so fast to throw me under the bus that I kind of stare in amazement at their audacity to reality. Because at some point (hopefully), we understand that our investment in beliefs or people really aren’t serving us well anymore.

I call it growth. Or self preservation. Take your pick.

Fast forward to modern times. I’ve thought a lot about investing these last couple of days and I’ve come to a few conclusions. Mostly, I’m probably pretty selfish when it comes to things I invest in. And I’m okay with that. I invest in my marriage, first and foremost. Some days that requires a lot. The deposits seem to add up and when I go to make a withdrawal, I get an **account overdrawn** notice.  Truth be told, that probably happens to Matt too. Some days there’s a whole 100 bucks in the account and some days we’re down to a penny. That’s okay. If we do get overdrawn, it’s time to step back and figure out how we’re going to get to at least zero so we don’t have to close the account. Then we do, at least, so far we have. We make sure we don’t allow certain penalties into our marriage account; cheating (physical or emotional), disrespect, scary fighting. Rules to ensure we never step out on a ledge that we can’t get off of.

I, obviously, invest in my training. One of the more humbling realities these last few weeks is that I’m not in fighting shape like I was a few months ago and now I have a new coach whom I have so much respect for but feel like a big dufus because I’m missing so many lifts (at least I was. I’m responding quite well and coming back but still, humbling.) See, what I told him initially was that I was a hard worker. But when I’m missing weights that were warm up weights last year at this time, I’m embarrassed. I’m not showing all the years and hours of hard work that I’ve invested in to being a top performer in my class. (I will. Stand by.) When it comes time again to start throwing (it’ll be a while) I’ll invest in that training also. Physically and mentally, I invest in being the absolute best I can be.

I invest in people. Now here I’m just as selective as I am in my training or my marriage. I know we’ve all invested in people who have let us down. Those who we’ve continued to invest in long after the health of the relationship had passed. I still do it today, not as much, but I get annoyed when I don’t part ways with an unhealthy person sooner. The people I invest in are stellar. They vary in activities; likes and dislikes, and interests. But at the end of the day, they are some of the best people on the planet. My investing in these people make my life a joyful and fairly stress free one. I am always honored when others I respect and love invest their time in us. Years spent making memories together because they find value in this friendship also. That always means the world to me and especially poignant now because our next few weeks is scheduled to be filled with these people. Yeah life!

I also invest in ideals. Principals. Values. While I would categorically not consider myself to be religious, I do believe in God and his teachings. I believe in a moral compass that is built not just in Christianity but also in Buddhism and just downright hippy shit that the famous Coke commercial embodied back in the 70’s. I believe in other’s rights to have different beliefs and will mostly try to find some respect in their investment of those opposing views.

Basically, I understand being invested in something. I live it. I respect it. I work with it all the time. I walk my talk every day in my investments with very little worry. I’m confident that in nearly all cases, I’m on the right track. This is why I can’t fault those who have opposing views, because I believe they’re doing the exact same thing.

But (yup, there’s a but all up in this bitch), at what point do we look at our investments and say, Whoaaaaa there Nelly, you and I’s gots to part ways (that’s my cowboy speak of the post.) Because like I’ve said, we’ve all learned that we’ve invested in the wrong people or situations. Totally normal.

For example, there is an entire class of private High School students in Kentucky (in all honesty, I believe the public school system should be taken apart and vouchers given for education. What a fucking mess of a cash cow the American public school system is. Abolish it and give choice a chance) who have found themselves smack dab in the middle of a controversy of investments. See, some people invested their time and beliefs in the “fact” that these students had shown disrespect to a Native American veteran. But then, when evidence showed otherwise, those who had already invested so much time and energy into hating these kids couldn’t/wouldn’t back off their hatred because they’d already invested too much. Suddenly, adults are calling for some of these High School boys to be beaten; raped, and even killed. Because they are white and were wearing a hat that those same people say represent hate yet the only one’s displaying hate and racism were those people. I mean, really?

You are really so invested in what you THOUGHT was happening that you can’t back up and see objectively what the fuck you’re saying? THIS is your America?

Look, we all make mistakes. We all misjudge at some point and have to come back around and say, ‘oh boy, I screwed the pooch on that one. Mybad.’ That’s okay. That’s growth. When we start judging a group of people based solely on the color of their skin and what they’re wearing, well, geez haven’t we moved on from that yet?

If we love our country, we should also love our countrymen.

Ronald Reagan


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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