Musings on the Late, Great, Robin Williams

I got, as well as the rest of the nation, terrible news last night.  The death of Robin Williams.  Normally deaths of celebrities don’t illicit an emotional response from me.  I’ve met celebrities, and talked with them.  But very few do I have an emotional connection with.

Robin Williams was different.  This is obvious to anyone that’s ever watched his standup, or sit-coms or fantastic movies.  Whether it be a serious roll, or is typical funny-man roll.  He was different for me and by the outpouring of emotion all over the news (even on my normal Sports Talk Radio Morning Shows).

I went through a lot of things as a young child, my parents divorce, the ensuing custody battle etc.  One of my outlets, was movies.  One of my outlets was comedy. 

Generally speaking, I’m considered the funny-man to a lot of people.  I like to make people happy and make people laugh.  This comes from some of the sadder times in my life in the past.  I’ve dealt with depression, my family has a history of it.  My grandfather even committed suicide.

Comedy was my way of dealing with things at times.  I try to find humor in most everything.  I believe that’s the basis of a lot of comedians starts.  Young days, sad, potentially alone, and wanting to connect with people.  Or to make other people around them happy.  I guess you can imagine the classic “sad clown” that puts on a show for everyone, but cries alone.

I believe this is what Robin was dealing with.  Same with comedians like Chris Farley.  Gone too soon, issues with drugs, depression and things of that nature.  It’s a shame we can’t let those around us see our pain. 

Let them in and let them help to take care of us.  We can’t always be “on”.  We can’t always take on the loads of those around us.  We need to share our stress, pain and worries.  It’s okay to let others know you’re sad or upset. 

That’s a journey that I’ve been dealing with myself the last couple of years.  I never wanted to “rock the boat”.  I always wanted to be the strong one, and be there to support others.  There are times when I was taking on too much, and needed to ask for help.  It’s okay to ask for help, even if it’s too much work at the office.  It’s okay to ask for help, even if you’re a little down.

Most importantly, since there’s a suicide in my family, it’s okay to ask for help when you’re depressed.  Depression isn’t something that should be swept under the rug and ignored or condemned.  I’m getting there.  Perhaps that’s one of Robin’s biggest lessons for all of us.  If you’re in physical pain, you see a doctor.  But if you’re in emotional pain, it’s okay to see a doctor and get help then too.

Rest In Peace Robin Williams, you’ll certainly be missed.  You brought millions laughter even when you battled your own demons inside.  Millions of us today wish we could have been there for you as you were there for us.  I believe God has a sense of humor, and now it’s time for you to make the heavens laugh.  Perhaps you’ll finally find peace and have laughter in your soul as well.

RW

Things The Polar Bear Learned From Puppy

2014 has started off quite busy for us in my house.  Between a conveyor belt of snow storms, head colds, Norovirus and work, the Polar Bear Clan seems to have one thing after another.  But, we’re making the most of it and making the most of our New Year’s Resolutions.

2014 has also brought in a major change in our household.  I wanted to get my wife a new puppy for Valentine’s Day.  Today was the day I was supposed to pick her up.  But just like most other things so far this year, we had to be flexible and pick her up a week early (during a head cold for me, and Norovirus for my wife).  The timing could not have been worse, but those were the cards we were dealt.  On the plus side, she’s settling in well already, she and the older dog, River, are starting to get the pecking order in line, and we have started to master potty training, and she’s been named – Phoebe.

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(Love those eyes)

Then, miracle of miracles, we got a snow storm and my office and my wife’s office closed!  So, we’re all hunkered down in the house with our River dog, and Phoebe monster.  Letting the storm pass and staying away from the crazies on the roads.

The pup started to cry at 5 this morning.  I got up, and took her out.  With puppy enthusiasm, she charged out into the snow to do her “business.”  While waiting in the cold, freezing rain and sleet (unfortunately, we turned over to ice last night) I was thinking about how much we can learn from puppies.

Yes, they chew, have accidents in the house and can annoy their older siblings as we work out the pecking order of the new “pack” dynamic.  But while they may not know commands, or fully grasp their name and things, they have a lot they can teach us.

Everyday is a new, wonderful opportunity to explore and make our lives fuller, as we learn about the world around us.  Puppies experience everything around them even though sometimes it causes trouble.  People tend to get stuck in a rut or routine, and let that just become the same for them day after day.

World

While yes, we can be scared easily (for instance, the heat pump kicks on while we’re standing next to it) and we hightail it across the yard as fast as we can go, we also “get over it” quickly, and move back over to cautiously explore this new “thing.”  Unfortunately, as children and even as adults, we tend to decide it’s okay to be afraid of something new or old and rather than push through the fear and grow, we just sit back and let that particular aspect of their lives pass them by.

Attack everything with 100% enthusiasm and gusto!  Whether it be a new bowl of food, five toys at once, your first snow or even meeting new people.  We have a tendency to be ho-hum about meeting people, the same things we eat every day, or even in the games we play from time to time.  We don’t actually enjoy  or fully experience most of the things in our lives.  Puppies don’t miss out on any bit of an experience.

Play every day!  Even if we’re just getting back from a “potty break” as soon as we’re off the leash, Phoebe will take off across the room to attack the first toy she comes to.  Puppies can play for hours on end.  I think adults especially, should try to focus more on having at least a little fun every day.  Most of us don’t take a little time to laugh and have a little fun.  While playing hard can lead to the next point, it is also good for our health, lowered blood pressure, increased heart rate etc. etc. etc.

basket

(why pull the toys out, when you can climb in and play with them?)

Sleep without worry.  I’ve never seen someone fall asleep so quickly as a puppy.  Play-play-play-pass-out.  And just like a small baby, you can pick them up, move them around, manipulate them.  They sleep so soundly.  As we grow older, and take on more responsibility, we typically can’t just fall asleep.  We toss and turn.  We may blame the mattress, our spouse or any number of things.  But if we just let things go, not worry as much and relax, we’d all fall into a blissful, hard and as my friend says “delicious” sleep.

Sleep

Love unconditionally.  All dogs, puppies and seniors, greet you at the door even if you’ve been gone for 30 seconds.  Like they haven’t seen you in weeks.  While you may scold a puppy for chewing the furniture, five seconds later, they come over to play.  Dogs don’t hold grudges, and forgive immediately (if you accidentally step on them) and are the champions of full, unabiding love.  Something, that without explanation, we can all learn from.

Our little Phoebe may not have come on time, or during an ideal situation with our illnesses and work schedules. But, just like any child, you’re never fully prepared.  Compared to River, she can be a monster at times.  But she’s smart and is learning quickly.  She has gotten River to be more active (part of the thought process in getting her) and has increased my “steps” according to Fitbit even though I’ve not made it into the gym.  Mostly she brings us unimaginable joy, in her honest and carefree approach to things, the laughs she’s given us in the week she’s become part of the Polar Bear Clan and you can feel a little less tension in you shoulders and chest as she’s around.  Melting your heart and releasing the stress in your every day life.

River

(River’s typical day before Phoebe arrived)

We can learn a lot from the little monster, just as she learns a lot from us.  We just have to open ourselves to the possibility of learning from her.  So welcome Phoebe.

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Taking My Stapler into 2014, and Appreciating What I’ll Gain

Well, 2013 is a wrap.

It’s the 2nd of January, 2014.  I spent most of my day catching up on the work that I missed during my time off for the Holidays.  Then I finished up moving the stuff into my new office space.  4th time I’ve moved my office in the 5 years I’ve been here.  I’ll move again at some point early in the year as our office continues to expand.  It’s good to grow so quickly, it’s just they keep moving me further and further back in the office.  I’m starting to feel like Milton, from Office Space.  At least I’ve kept my Swingline Stapler through it all…

But, with my new office space, and the new year, comes new possibilities.  As I try to get back into my routine of working like a normal person and no more, seemingly-every-night Holiday Parties I look back at the year that just finished, and look ahead into the new year just beginning.

2013, just like any year, had its ups and downs.  More downs than I’d like to mention, but from those, came some new lessons and some new ups.  Here are just some of the things I’ve learned in 2013, and that I’m working on improving in 2014.

I have come to appreciate family more.  Between a few things that happened this year I’ve learned, family is the most important thing.  Never take them for granted.  Never miss an opportunity to tell them you love them and never leave without saying goodbye.  Life is short.  Enjoy those around you.

I love my wife more than anything in this world.  I don’t know what I’d do without her.  She keeps me grounded and is the best part of me hands down.  (I will say though, the best part of moving to a new cube, is you can place out your photos in new places.  I have photos of my wife and I, photos of my dog, other family members etc.  I was glad to look at them all this morning and place them in more prominent locations at my new desk.)

Follow through is key.  I’ve heard that a thousand times before from coaches, etc. in sports.  But never put it to much, practice in life.  I was horrible at it until 2013.  I started to focus on the follow through a little more and it makes a ton of difference.  It could be something big, like making sure someone feels special on their birthday.  That’s not just a card and a small gift.  It takes planning and effort.  — Or, it could be something small.  Like getting names embroidered on stockings.  My wife and I had talked about doing that for 11 years now.  And we never did it.  We pulled out the decorations again this December, and look, no names on the stockings.  We went out, picked out the color and the font, and got it done.  It’s not hard.  It’s just about getting up off your ass and making it happen.  I used to be huge about, “yeah, I’ll call you…”  or “yeah, let’s hang out…”, but I’ve always been terrible at doing those things.  I’d always get “too busy.”  Well, last year, and moving into this year, I’m going to make the time, even set reminders on my calendars, or “meetings with myself” to make sure I follow through and get done what needs to get done, when it needs to be done.

Take your time, patience is a virtue.  I’m still recovering from my surgery last February.  It’s taken a long time.  Longer than I wanted it to.  I’m getting stronger.  I’m getting better.  But some days are good and some aren’t.  It’s just about taking the good with the bad and making the most out of what you’re given.  Finding the balance of rest and recovery, vs. working out.  Pushing to get better, or resting to maintain where you’ve gotten.  My leg has gotten stronger through all this.  I need to allow the rest of me to get stronger as well.

Setbacks happen.  I was getting in better and better shape as 2012 rolled along.  The knee injury really set that all back.  More than a year really.  I’ve backslid quite a bit in 2013 in that area.  Some of it my fault, but not all of it.  The key is, realizing what has set you back, and moving to get back on track again and going in the right direction.  That requires the love  and support of your family and friends, especially your spouse.  That requires follow through and setting realistic goals and finishing those goals.  Small or large.  It could be big, like paying off all your debt, or small, like being able to get in the shower by yourself after knee surgery.  If you don’t work on them regularly, you won’t meet those goals, and the setback will win.  So with your follow through, it will require you to take your time, if you don’t take your time, you’ll push too hard, and give yourself another setback.  You can’t go all gung-ho and guns-a-blazin’ all the time.  You will burn out.

So those are some of the things I learned in 2013.  Not all that I learned.  But just a slice.  It was a big year of lessons for me.  Most of which I would rather not repeat.  I took my lumps in ’13.  So, overall I’m glad 2013 is gone.  But I’ll take these lessons into 2014 and make myself a better person.

I’ll speak my mind (it’s okay to rock the boat occasionally).  I’ll love those that deserve to be loved.  I’ll dump those in my life that don’t.  I’m going to get back on the physical well-being train that took a hiatus in 2013 and try to get into some additional PR’s and doing some things I had never done before.  I will embrace running even though I despise it to no end.  I will run a 5k, probably a 10k and we’ll see what happens after that.  I will be better in 2014 than I was in 2013, and 2014 will be a new milestone for me on every level, personally, emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually.  I’ll be have more patience, take things as they come, follow through when I say I will, and give 100% to my friends and family and find a way every day to show my wife how much I truly love her.

The difference in 2014 and the years before, was I didn’t appreciate the things that I had and didn’t appreciate the people and things I had going for me in life, now I do.  I once had a coach tell me that ‘life makes you lose sometimes so you can appreciate overcoming the loss, and truly appreciate the win.’  I think that’s what 2013 was for me.  Now time to move into 2014, and truly appreciate where I am, the lessons learned, and take what I’ve learned in 2013 to make a better me in 2014.

Mike’s Shanahanigans May Make Washington Better?

Mike Shanahan has done it again.  The head coach of the Washington football team has made his next chess move in an effort to get fired.  Strangely though, this one may benefit the team in the long run.

It was announced yesterday morning, that Shanahan was going to bench RG3.  There’s been a lot of debate about this and some fans are outraged.  Be that as it may, I believe this is just another move, in a long standing terrible relationship between Dan Snyder and the coach.

This drama started well before I was a Washington Fan.  Albert Haynesworth and Shanahan never saw eye to eye, and Haynesworth was run out of town.  Since this is in the era before my ‘fandom’, I didn’t follow all the details, but I remember being struck by the fact that this should have been handled in-house, not in the media and while Haynesworth probably should have been run out of the locker room, Shanahan handled it poorly.  Also, this is a running issue for Shanahan, from disputes with Elway, Dan Reeves, Al Davis and others.

Then came the news before the game last week “according to unnamed sources”, that Shanahan was ready to quit last year before they had made the playoffs, and had packed up his office.  Then when RG3 hurt his knee, Shanahan had a change of heart.  This news breaks, but where did it come from?  Honestly, probably leaked by Mike Shanahan or one of his “people.”  Because this season is getting out of control.  Trying to get Snyder to fire him, so he can still collect $7M due him next season.

Then kickoff.  Probably one of the most lopsided and terrible games I’ve ever laid my eyes on.  Not because my team was getting throttled, but just the lack of preparation, and execution.  The weather was bad, yes, but Kansas City was playing in that too.  They were man handling the Washington squad (remember, I don’t use their mascot name anymore) mercilessly. 31-0 in the second quarter.

Monday comes… Shanahan still isn’t fired. Though the rumors tick up a bit more.

Shanahan’s record with the team, now stands at 24-37.  The only good season, 2012, when they won the division and ran a read-option style offense.  The best year previously, was his first, at 6-10 and it’s only gotten worse from there (minus last year and Rookie of the Year RG3 playing out of his mind).  Mike’s last playoff win was 8 years ago.  He’s only had two winning seasons since.  When Denver won Super Bowl’s, Elways was the quarterback, and the ground game was key.

Sadly, those days are over.  I love a little ground and pound football, but it’s a passing league now.  When Washington runs the ball with Alfred Morris, they tend to do fairly well.  But every game, they stop running the ball (generally because they are way way WAY behind) and it all falls apart.

GIF via GIFD Sports (@gifdsports)

Tuesday comes… rumors swirl that Shanahan is going to bench RG3.  Dan Snyder loves RG3.  They’ll never bench the franchise quarterback even though the season is lost.  I even believe that won’t happen.  I think it’s just another move to piss off Dan Snyder.

RG3 hasn’t played well this year.  I’ll admit it.  He’s the main reason I became a fan of the Washington football team.  He’s exciting to watch.  He has amazing potential.  Having said that, he’s not been right all season.  I’ve gone through my own knee issues more than once.  I even had surgery about the same time he did on his last knee surgery.  I know what it is to not trust your knee.  I know what it is to have that little bit of doubt in the back of your mind when you do anything, much less play football.  I expected his numbers to be down this year, but I expected them to get better as the year went along.  They haven’t.  In fact, they’ve probably gotten worse after going up for the first few weeks, the last few weeks have been terrible.  But, his stats don’t necessarily lead me to believe that he deserves benching as your franchise quarterback.  If you don’t know who your guy is, that’s one thing, but RG3 is the QB of the future for Washington.

Wednesday.  RG3 gets benched.  Surely this is the final straw for Snyder.  He’ll fire Shanahan and un-do that particular maneuver.  Still, Shanahan isn’t fired.

So I start thinking about it as the debate begins.  Surely Shanahan is getting fired, either before the season is over, or the day after.  A coach that can’t adjust to the new brand of football, and can’t make halftime adjustments, with an abysmal record and a trend of losing for longer than most of us have owned our cars.  A career 55% win percentage.  Someone that feuds with players publicly in the media, and one that’s known for having “his guys” and kicking players off teams that aren’t “his guys.”

The latest manuever going against all normal football logic and tradition.  It will certainly end whatever love there is between him and Snyder.  Sitting the franchise player without pegging it to performance or injury will get you gone really quickly.  Owners don’t pay that kind of money for benchwarmers.

But, the receivers have done no favors for RG3.  The defense has put the team in multiple binds that they have to try to dig out of.  Some, they have gotten close to digging out of, others (like the KC game) they don’t ever even whiff victory.  The special teams are a joke (when we finally do score against KC, the ensuing kickoff is returned for a touchdown).  The offensive line… is well, offensive.  That’s the biggest bunch of pathetic fat men I’ve ever seen.  Alfred Morris can’t run when you’re down 31-0.  Pierre Garcon has a sudden case of the dropsies, and your flashy tight end has been out a few games with a concussion.

So obviously, there are a lot more problems than just a QB that still isn’t “right”.  Why should he go out there and get brutally hit multiple times every game.  As the field conditions get worse and the season gets more into winter, you can have a Seattle playoff game position again.  He’s been sacked already 38 times in 13 games (that’s almost three a game on the season).  And it’s only getting worse.  He’s been sacked, 24 times in the last 5 games (almost 5 a game).  He was hit 18 times in the loss to Minnesota, and not in nice ways.

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It’s becoming more and more obvious, if you watch the games, the “clock” in his head on when to get rid of the ball is in hyperdrive.  Look to the first receiver and RUN!!  Sometimes, it’s already too late.  Sometimes on play action they run passed Alfred Morris and just sack RG3 before the handoff is completed.  The O-line is giving him no protection.  If he stays in the pocket he gets creamed.

Sadly, this is all one play… as RG3 gets pummeled and the linemen pile up on him.

RG3 gets TRAMPLED

At the beginning of the season, he wasn’t stepping into throws, as he was still consciously or subconciously still worried about the knee.  At about game 5 or 6, he started stepping into the throws.  His numbers went up.  The team played a little better.  But as the protection and drops got worse, and he was getting hit more and more, harder and harder, the mechanics started to break down.  Throws went higher and the reads got shorter.  Leading to him trying to run sooner, and therefore taking more hits.  It’s a vicious cycle.

So why not let Cousins play.  I think he’s got potential to be a very good quarterback in the NFL.  We gave up too much for RG3 when we moved up to draft him (not a slam on RG3 at all, but 3 first round picks and a second round pick is too much for anyone).  We can’t afford to let RG3 get hurt.  If Cousins plays well, we could get a draft pick for him, and bolster our sad roster a bit, and we need draft picks!!  And if he doesn’t play well or gets hurt himself, we already knew what we had, and he’s only the backup (not saying I want Kirk Cousins to get hurt).

So maybe Washington will get  a draft pick for Cousins.  Maybe, at the very least, they’ll have a healthy Franchise QB going into the offseason, and know more about the backup.  Major League teams shut down pitchers all the time.  They try to protect their investment.  Washington is VERY invested in RG3, not just his salary, but the draft picks that will cripple the franchise for a decade or more if he doesn’t work out.

RG3 will then go into the offseason, relatively “healthy” (I still contend the knee isn’t 100%, hell, mine isn’t!).  He will be able to heal up from the bumps and bruises of the season, “get his head right” with his knee, and take a few extra hits that are coming his way off the table.  152 hits last year is almost 10 a game.  Assuming his rate is still approximately 10 a game, you’re saving him 30 hits (more than Peyton Manning takes in a season).  But, without having to work on major rehab, he can work on his mechanics, a new playbook when the new coaching staff comes in, and stop the regression he’s started the last few weeks.  He has the potential to be great.  He needs to take the time to work on “offseason stuff” that he never got the chance to do like, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson did last year.  He’s only 23, he still has a lot to learn.

The team also needs to work this offseason.  Get some good blockers up front, a better defense and maybe one more reliable receiver.  That and a new coaching staff and gameplan will go a long way in increasing the longevity and productivity of RG3.  At this rate, he won’t be around long.

I don’t believe Shanahan is particularly concerned about the health or longevity of RG3.  I think he’s just using him as a pawn in his game with Dan Snyder.  Perhaps this last chess move to get canned by Shanahan, while unintended, is the best gift he could give Washington as he walks out the door.

Wonderfully Missed the Mark on this Woman

So, you’re about to get a look at my geek side I guess.

I’m not one that usually gets too wrapped up in what my Superhero looks like.  Batman for instance… Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and now it seems, Ben Affleck.  Some have gotten up in arms about this one or that one.

My argument is, there’s really no major ‘rules’ on what he’s supposed to look like, only that he’s a billionaire.  Superman should have dark hair, look completely different with glasses than without.  Otherwise, no real rules there either.  Thor, long blonde hair… Obviously, I can go on and on really, no major details on how most superheroes should look.

That is, until you get to Wonder Woman.  There are pretty specific backgrounds on how she should look.  Long dark hair and that of an amazon woman.  So therefore tall, athletic, muscular and with some curves.  You don’t get a tall athletic build without some curves.

This is where I run into a problem.  The new “Batman v. Superman” movie, which got a bunch of buzz going with the naming of Affleck as the Batman, just announced Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.  Ummm… excuse me??

While she is fairly tall, she has dark hair, she by no means has the physique necessary to pull of a Wonder Woman.  She’s rail thin.  5,000 calories a day and hours of weight lifting daily will be needed to make that even somewhat believable!

Unfortunately, this has weighed on me for longer than it ever should have (or more than I thought it ever would).  If you were going to pull from the Fast & Furious movies, Jordanna Brewster or Michelle Rodriguez would have been better choices (even though they’re both on the shorter side).  They at least have a little muscle mass.

jordana brewster image jordana brewster photo jordana brewster picMichelle Rodriguez wallpapers (101552). Popular Michelle Rodriguez ...

Brooke Shields would be a good option (though some would complain she’s too old), or Kate Beckinsale (she’s done some action movies).  My heartthrob Jennifer Lawerence would have done an excellent job of playing Wonder Woman!  They’re all tall and athletic!  More the amazon woman type.

A coworker of mine, once this became a topic of conversation suggested Cobie Smulders – That could work.

My wife suggested last night, Megan Boone (NBC’s The Blacklist) as we watched the finale.  I love that show.  And for some reason Megan Boone is one of the most attractive women on television to me, so I would back her as Wonder Woman.

Morena Baccarin (V, and Homeland) would definitely match the look.  She has more curves than Gal.  And would likely be more believable.

Jaimie Alexander (Lady Sif from “Thor”) has a background in the strong, superheroine movie genre.  She’d be a fantastic Wonder Woman, though I’m sure Marvel wouldn’t want to share with D.C. Comics one of their own.  You know, competition and all…

Perhaps someone from the CrossFit world would do?  Camille?  Super beautiful, but a little too short.  Stacie Tovar?  She’d need to dye her hair and wear tall boots to pull it off.

Camille Leblanc-BazinetStacie Tovar - Imgur

Annie Thorisdottir?  She’d have to stick to the Thor Movies. (She is the daughter of Thor afterall)

Elisabeth Akinwale… she’s got everything you need.  Let’s just turn the superhero world on it’s head, and have the Lasso of Truth in Akinwale’s hands!

Finally, one of the people that has come to mind for me, that wouldn’t need a lot in terms of gym work.  Or even special camera angles to make them seem taller, would have to be Gabrielle Reece.  All she’d need is a little hair dye.  I don’t know if she’s ever acted before, but she would fit the bill as far as “looks” go.

Unfortunately, I see “Hollywood” going out to find the “ideal” woman.  No matter how screwed up that vision is.  Women are supposed to be beautiful and they’re supposed to have curves.  That’s the way God intended them to be.  That’s what William Moulton Marston wanted to create way back in the 1940′s when he created Wonder Woman.

He said in 1943 “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.” And that was said in 1943!!!

Hollywood has missed the mark on this one. It’s just not believable to me that Gal could kick anyone’s ass, much less be Wonder Woman.  Okay, that’s the end of my comic book related socially acceptable norms, stick-figure-model, rant.  Just throwing out my own Lasso of Truth on the subject.

 

The Next, Happy, Chapter of CrossFit

The next chapter of my CrossFit and personal fitness began today.  I officially handed in my ‘termination papers’ today and spoke with my coach at my local gym… or “box” as we call it.

I’m beginning anew at another one here in the city.  Why?  Well, to be happy.

A marathoning buddy of mine was asking about CrossFit earlier this week, after finishing another marathon.  We talked for a good while and I listed several local boxes that would be good for him to try out.  He lives on another side of the city, so I didn’t expect him to come to mine, though it was offered as an option.  Finally I told him, “just go, sit in, watch a workout.  Get a feel for what the gym is about, and the people.  Find one that works for you and that makes you happy.”  I’m a firm believer, that your workouts should be a stress reliever.  Laughter and smiling is a big stress reliever to most.

My biggest stress reliever is my wife.  My wife works out at a different box, because of many reasons, mostly, is that it’s closer to her office and it had programming more in line with what she was looking for.  While she was still at the same box as me, she was having to rush across town through downtown traffic to make a 5:30 class.  She even had her work schedule changed to get off a little earlier to accommodate this.  Still, a lot of times, it didn’t work.

Since she’s left, I’ve been going and trying to get the same thing out of my workouts.  I was just leaving with a hollow and empty feeling.  It would be better on days she’d come watch me workout (generally we had somewhere to be right after, so we’d ride together after my workouts).  Most days, at the gym, without her, it was just flat.

Often, I thought this was just a depression I was feeling because I couldn’t workout like I used to, before my knee injury and surgery.  I thought, ‘oh, it’ll come back.’  As I got stronger and my knee got better, I was feeling more hollow and empty at the end of each WOD.  I thought, ‘well, it’ll take a while, I’m still not doing everything yet.’

Finally, a few weeks ago I got a new PR.  Not a “Post-Op” PR like most of the one’s I’ve had this year. – I decided to throw out all my old ones to keep from pushing myself too hard.  But I still qualified my PR’s this year as “Post-Op” because even though I threw out the paper, I knew most of them in my head. – They were all short of where I had been.  So obviously, I would get the mojo back once I got some new PR’s right?

This PR was 25#’s more than my pre-surgery back squat.  I was getting stronger!  385# Back Squat.  I was pretty pleased with that.  I should have been over the moon ecstatic.  But it was only a milder, quieter reaction.  Not my normal exuberance when PRing.  Something was definitely missing.

The next week, I went with my wife to workout at her box (insert perverted joke here).  It’s a very different environment.  But, while I knew hardly anyone, I was glad to be with her.  It was a terrible, atrocious, evil-minded punishment of a workout for a big guy like me.  Reps of 21-15-9 of 50# sandbag get-ups and pull ups.  This would have been a nightmare before my surgery, but now??

I learned, while I am getting stronger, there are still weaknesses in the knee.  Sandbag get-ups suck way more post surgery (if they didn’t suck enough before??).  I already knew I hated finishing last.  But that’s exactly what was happening in this WOD!  Everyone in the class was done before me (and perhaps everyone that walked in that location that day).  But I slogged through it.  Finishing dead last.

My wife was there.  I was drenched in sweat.  My body hurt.  I needed water.  I needed a post-workout banana or something.  I was hating life.  But, I was happy….?  What?

We went home, and talked most of the night.  I was enthusiastic about my workout.  And my terrible performance.

I went to her box a few times.  I went to mine a few times.  Good and bad, workouts and results, in both.

Finally, I went to hers on Monday.  Squats all over the place (I LOVE squats).  But, I got to spend time with her, so it was even better!  Last night, I went to my box. After a little strength work, Push Jerks and Box Jumps.  My shoulder had been protesting a bit the last couple of weeks and I despise box jumps (I have scars to prove the box and I don’t get along.  Big guys like me, jumping up and down…. no bueno).  Especially since surgery.  I wasn’t really looking forward to the workout.

I breezed through it without issue.  I was gassed, but I finished well and was very pleased with my time.  My trainers, friends and coaches cheering me on along the way.  I think two people finished in front of me (that’s more like it).  I should have been very pleased.  No.  Flat again.  In fact, I was in a worse mood than when I came in.  Something is wrong.  I packed my stuff, put my weights away and went home.

I woke up last night around 3 AM.  I sat up and thought about it all night long.  The advice I gave my friend, about being happy, I wasn’t following.  The idea that a workout should be a stress reliever and you should be in a better place than when you went in, which had happened HUNDREDS of times before, wasn’t happening for me anymore.

I need to be around my stress reliever.  My wife.  I need to be able to share my experiences with her and thrive on the conversation that ensues afterwards.  I need to share in her victories, defeats, struggles and triumphs, and I need her there to share mine.

I love my old box.  It’s where I was introduced to CrossFit.  I love the trainers there and the friendships and relationships I’ve made.  My experiences and my trials, the things I’ve learned, emotionally, physically and psychologically.  But it’s time for me to move on.

I’ll go back and workout there again one day, see my friends and share some sweat with them.  But for now, I need to find my roots at the new place.  I’d suggest my old box to anyone that was looking for a place like that.  It had everything I needed.  It just missed one major thing.  My wife.

I’ll go to the new box tonight.  Sign up as a new member.  Yes, leaving my old place makes me sad, but I think there are great things ahead at the new place.  That makes me happy.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”  ~Unknown

Football Fails Miserably at Honoring the Troops on Veterans Day

Just like most weekends in the fall.  I watched a good amount of football this weekend.  Most teams honored veterans in one way or another.  camouflage in their uniforms, flags unfurled across the fields or in the stands.  Message boards from the folks in the seats.  Fly overs (paid for by average men and women since it’s no longer done by the government – but that’s a debate for another day).  As I watched this, I thought about the veterans I know, whether they be family, friends or otherwise.  I thought to myself.  Thanks for the freedoms these men and women have afforded me.  Giving it just a passing thought and really nothing more.

Then, I settled in, to watch some football.

As I watched the myriad of games on yet another glorious fall weekend, I heard the announcers, talking heads and players all use terms I’ve heard a million times over.  Then, late Sunday, Peyton Manning fell to the ground.  The announcer said something that struck me, and I replayed all the sounds I had heard over the course of the weekend pre-game shows, the games and the post-game coverage for all the years I’ve been playing and watching football.  And then there was a soldier standing in the background off the field, and it all clicked.  We’re all wrong…

What did the announcer say?  “Peyton Manning, he’s hurt, but he’s a warrior…”  Wrong!

Taking nothing from Peyton Manning.  He’s a great football player.  And he’s pushed through injuries.  But he’s nothing like the guy standing in the background behind him.  That man behind him is the warrior.  Peyton just plays football.

So, I took a short inventory of some of the terms I’ve heard in the last few days that have struck me as incorrect.  Or terms I’ve heard while playing.  Once again incorrect.  Here they are, I’ve put the dictionary.com definition of each, in case you needed it.

Warrior -

1. a person engaged or experienced in warfare; soldier.

Yes, definition two discussing politics and athletics, but let’s get real here.  There’s a HUGE difference between warfare and football, or warfare and politics.

Hero -

1. a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal: He was a local hero when he saved the drowning child.
3. the principal male character in a story, play, film, etc.
Again, this term shouldn’t apply to a sport figure (I’ve blogged on this one before).  This is a term that should only be reserved for the handful of people we meet in our entire lives that could fall under these definitions.  Remember, football is a game.  Saving the lives of others, whether on a battlefield or coming to the aid of those in distress is not.
Battle –

1. a hostile encounter or engagement between opposing military forces: the battle of Waterloo.

2. participation in such hostile encounters or engagements: wounds received in battle.
3. a fight between two persons or animals: ordering a trial by battle to settle the dispute.
4. any conflict or struggle: “a battle for control of the Senate.”
5. Archaic. a battalion.
Once again, we use this term all the time in football.  These definitions apply to war (except for definition 4).  But if you tell someone the definitions listed, and you have to get to the fourth definition before it applies.  There really is a better word out there for the confrontation on a football field during a GAME!  We call our little well painted and proportioned field a battlefield at times.  This cannot be further from the truth and the fog of war isn’t a defined territory.
Destroy –

1. to reduce (an object) to useless fragments, a useless form, or remains, as by rending, burning, or dissolving; injure beyond repair or renewal; demolish; ruin; annihilate.

2. to put an end to; extinguish.

3. to kill; slay.
4. to render ineffective or useless; nullify; neutralize; invalidate.
5. to defeat completely.
Okay, so once again, we have to get to definition five before it could be applied to destroying your opponent on a football field, during a game?  Yes “he got destroyed on that hit” is a common term in football.  But, THANKFULLY, we rarely, have players “put an end to”, “Extinguished”, “Killed”, or “slain”.  So unless we’re looking to go back to Gladiator days, and we’re looking for blood sport where people are actually killed, this term cannot be applied to football either.
Bombs -

1. Military . a projectile, formerly usually spherical, filled with a bursting charge and exploded by means of a fuze, by impact, or otherwise, now generally designed to be dropped from an aircraft.

2. any similar missile or explosive device used as a weapon, to disperse crowds, etc.: a time bomb; a smoke bomb.
So… uhm… how does “throwing bombs down the field and hitting receivers” have anything AT ALL to do with these definitions?  I mean seriously.  We’ve created a new language to make sports sound tough, mean and manly.  But the words we use have no actual use at all in the sports we consume.  If we’re going to make words, and create a new language, let’s do so without diluting the meaning of the words.  I mean the first definition even has the word MILITARY in it!
War –

1. a conflict carried on by force of arms, as between nations or between parties within a nation; warfare, as by land, sea, or air.

2. a state or period of armed hostility or active military operations: The two nations were at war with each other.
3. a contest carried on by force of arms, as in a series of battles or campaigns: the War of 1812.
4. armed fighting, as a science, profession, activity, or art; methods or principles of waging armed conflict: War is the soldier’s business.
5. active hostility or contention; conflict; contest: a war of words.
And, once again, we have to get all the way down to the fifth definition of a word for it to have any, however vague and loose, association with the game of football, or any game for that matter.  It’s downright shameful.  Sportscasters (for the most part) have journalism and communications degrees.  They get paid to know what words to use at the right time.  We can’t do better than this?
Blown-up -

 1. (of a picture, photograph, image, etc.) enlarged.

2. damaged or destroyed by demolition, explosion, etc.: blown-up bridges.
3. (of a ball, balloon, etc.) inflated.
4. overexpanded; unduly large:
I’m guilty of this one.  I used this term in my last blog post.  Until this weekend, and the epiphany that ensued, I didn’t realize how wrong I was.  A military man uses this term for his target, or for that of his comrade in arms that he’s lost.  We use it to describe a huge hit on the field.  I apologize to my veteran friends, family and anyone else.  It’s the wrong term.
Players and announcers talk about “Putting it all on the line,” “Giving it their all,” and even occasionally “Defending at all costs.”  These are terms that do not belong in a game, even one as tough as football.  The words above, defined as they are and the terms I just mentioned, need to be reserved for greater times and greater men than those on a football field playing a game.
Diluting these terms and phrases only belittles the one’s the sport and all Americans, have been trying to honor this weekend and on this Veterans Day.  Save this wording for what they truly mean.  Honor and thank the veterans of all wars for the freedoms we have by saving this language for the real Heroes, those that have been in Battle, fought Wars.  Those that have been true Warriors, with Bombs, and Destruction, seen things that have really been Blown-up.  These aren’t football terms.
So, while the NFL and NCAA allow announcers to use terms such as these, and players walk around talking about how awesome and manly they are.  They need to sit down, and realize, they have the freedoms to say what they say, and do what they do because of the men and women in our armed forces.  Since the Revolutionary War began in 1775, the veterans (living and dead) have given us the freedoms we enjoy, and usually don’t fully appreciate for the last 238 years.
Happy Veterans Day.  And thank you to the troops!