Living vs. Not Dying

In early March of last year, rumors started to fly that there would be an across the board “shutdown” of America. My response? HA! Will never happen. This is America, land of the free and home of the brave. Boy was I wrong. Turns out we’re not so brave and while America remains one of the freest nations on the planet, what we knew as freedom on March 5th 2020 vs. March 5th 2021 are two completely different versions.

But that’s okay because THERE’S A PANDEMIC!!!! Ya huh, but this is still America and governments can’t just restrict our freedoms willy nilly but again, I was very wrong. I categorically disagreed with President Trump’s decision to shut down America, still do. I knew what that would mean, it would mean that politicians on the state and local level would suddenly have power to tell me where I could go; what I would be required to wear, and these newfound powers would be long lasting, completely immoral and we would be dealing with them long after any pandemic comes to a close. FINALLY, I was right.

I had disagreements with friends (former friends on their part, turns out I can’t disagree and stay friends with more people in my life than originally thought) on how I perceived the dangers of lockdowns to a multitude of populations while the virus was very selective in who was in danger of becoming very ill or actually dying from it. The overall response was, “we’ll worry about that later” which I found to be absolutely disgusting, especially because every person who said it had few to none financial set backs due to the shutdowns. The attitude of, I’ll be okay so it’s okay for everyone while lecturing everyone else on what they should do is some kind of mental gymnastics that I don’t have the strength to tolerate.


Matt and I took a very measured approach in how we dealt with the loss of freedoms and the stress that came with it.

Post meet dinner at Elizabeth’s in Savannah was one for the books.

We lived.

Luau in Oregon with Mark & Victoria? Why not?

Now, contrary to lockdown proponents who believe in the “either”/”or” of living, we did not ignore that there was a large population of Americans who needed to take precautions against becoming sick with this particular virus. We watched the data. We realized that as people in their 40’s and 50’s, very strong with few (if any) comorbidities that even if we were to get sick, we’d be okay. That was according to the data, see, while you can politicize the reporting of data; the actual data does not lie.

We watched as “mitigations” became more and more ridiculous. We watched as people jumped into a meat case to avoid being within 8 feet of someone else at the grocery store (this happened); as a mother told her daughter that because I wasn’t masked (outside) that it meant I wanted her to die (also happened), and grown men decided it was A-okay to scream at women about a mask (happens regularly and no, I don’t view women confronting women in the same vein. A man screaming at a woman for ANY reason is so fucking unacceptable that I have lost respect for the general population of men.)

Mardi Gras in Tosa with Mark & Victoria? Of course!

And we lived.

We followed the science and knew that asymptomatic spread of a virus was a virtual impossibility. And we lived.

Charleston with the best tour guides beer can buy;) Thanks Steve, you guys were an absolute blast and a gold star on our year!

We traveled. We flew. We chose not to be afraid of our fellow humans while at the same time respecting the decisions of our friends and family who chose otherwise. We connected with those who did not feel comfortable with face to face meetings but truth be told, the zoom thing became old for me. If we have to, we’ll do it, but I prefer face to face fun.

10 days in Texas with Oz was one of my greatest gifts of 2020. Spending time with his girlfriend and his family along with pilots of the past were added bonus. Also, Mangolia Market cupcakes!

We tried, and succeeded, in keeping life as completely normal as possible and no, not this bullshit “new normal” model people keep trying to sell. Portland, picnics, Texas with our soldier before he shipped out for a year, Savannah for a meet (kudos to USA Masters who have already had two in-person meets run beautifully with not one case of Covid traced back to the meets), and various other meet ups with people throughout the year. Ya know, living.

Luca & Kulani are our pride and joy. They are the best of friends and we are completely spoiled with the time we get with them.

While I respect the grandparents who chose not to see their grandchildren, that was not our approach. Our babies are our joy and we’re so very proud of Zac and Zandra. We are blessed with good health for Luca and Kulani and gods willing, that will continue. Zac and crew have maintained Sunday family days pretty much every week throughout the year and having Zandra and Kulani at the house these last 6 months has been an absolute treasure.

All of this is not to say that the stress of the last year hasn’t been noticeable. We’re not robots so there have been days where it’s good we have 3 levels in our house so we each get one for the day. Heh.

In conclusion? The last 12 months has been status quo around here and I’m so very grateful for it. I have been disappointed in so many who have spent the last year with so much fear where the data says that it is unnecessary but ultimately, that is up to them.

But it begs the question, if you’ve spent the last year solely focused on not dying…were you really living?

Don’t be afraid your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.

Grace Hansen

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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