Welcome to the first episode of The Sisu Way Podcast. There are many reasons for this passion project, and I’d like to start the show with my ‘why’. One of the major themes is the awareness, appreciation, connection and gratitude for life and the opportunity to leave lessons for the next generation. In this episode I share a deeply personal experience (12:41) and lesson in the balance of life and death. Within the same week, my first son was born and my father died. Life is a privilege, not a guarantee. It’s a reminder that health is wealth, and there is no time to waste in sharing how you feel with your loved ones. With that being said, I encourage you to start writing for your loved ones, and have the generation in front of you do the same. Don’t assume your kids know that much about you as a person, or that there will be lessons for them if something were to happen to you. There is generational information that is lost between is, and there is something we can do about it!
Another reason for the show is to motivate, inspire, and help others. I want to grow this together into a movement for service and personal growth. Surrendering, writing more on social media, and opening up personal thoughts is something I decided to do because I found it reached someone at the right time. That connection helps build us both up. Battles, adversity challenges are all universal and unavoidable but we have a choice how to react to it. Our attitudes and thoughts are in our control. Accountability is happiness and strength is a choice.
This episode was a relief for me to record. I did not know how I would feel recording solo for the first time, but I am glad I did it. I hope you appreciate my honesty and I humbly thank you for listening. I am very excited for what this show has in store for all of us!
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In my last article, Be the Light, I wrote about Martin Luther King Jr’s sermon called, “Loving Your Enemies.” I wrote that we can do better, we just need to open ourselves up and actually listen to each other. In order to heal, we should begin by analyzing ourselves, taking ownership of our own actions, utilizing purposeful/healthy communication, and learning to forgive. What I am seeing is “sides” that want to prove they are right. Sides that want to defeat, point fingers, or share things on social media that are aimed at defeating instead of healing. I see people sharing what they think is for the greater good, but in fact it is adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Spreading hate and negativity multiplies hate and negativity and I see what it is doing to us. This is a spiral of destruction that is rooted in darkness. It corrodes our thoughts. This is not the path to the mountaintop.
Social media posts and what people share have consequences.
Pointing out how the strong person stumbles is not the way. The credit belongs to the people who are actually in the arena, trying to be good people. They stumble. We stumble. The way to help each other is to be good people and to support others. To stand up in the storm and have compassion for those who fail. This starts with us. We always have a choice when it comes to our actions. I would like you to consider this when on social media. Think to yourself: Is what I’m about to post going to help or hurt anyone? Is this going to spread love or hate? Sometimes hate is deceptive. It’s easy to spread hate disguised as love, because you might not even realize it. The devil is deceitful. Mind your words because they matter. You don’t know who you are affecting. Continue reading
The degree to which we are able to forgive determines the degree to which we are able to love our enemies. My friends, we have followed the so-called practical way for too long a time now, and it has led inexorably to deeper confusion and chaos. -MLK Jr.
I wanted to write this piece because I know we have a chance. There is good in us, there is light that wants to connect. After my conversation with my friend Sal Masekela (WODcast Podcast 240 1:15 and 280 53:40) seeing the response from the listeners, it reinforced the my belief that we can do better. I am in a unique position that allows me to use my experience for good. We all are. We just need to open ourselves up and actually listen to each other. I mean actually listen to understand, not just hear and wait to deliver your point. That is “versus” and a selfish mentality that does not lead to empathy and growth. I see sides that want to prove they are right. It hurts when I see darkness where there should be light. It’s time to set down that bag of judgement, anger, bitterness, and retaliation. Love is lighter and lifts us all.
Matin Luther King did many sermons that have impact on society today. The quote in the photo below is from a sermon he did at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in 1957. The relevance of his words feel like they could have been easily said today. It deals with learning to love your adversaries. “Loving your enemies” was so basic to King and part of his basic philosophical and theological orientation—the whole idea of love, the whole philosophy of love. This applies not only to people, but to situations and circumstances. If we were to ask King today Continue reading
You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself. -James A. Froude
I have been blessed with the health and ability to complete workouts in honor of our Country’s finest people and fallen heroes. I am one that is still here with the ability to drive on using the gift of movement and the strength of mind to appreciate the moment. I am bathed in humility by the character of heroes that have given their lives in service to others, and I am sensitive to the lasting impact it makes on their families. I revere them and I’m forever grateful.
Lt. Michael Murphy is one of those heroes. When Michael Murphy completed the workout that was eventually named after him he called it “Body Armor”. I think the workout not only makes your body stronger, it makes your spirit more resilient. It’s a character builder. The grind we go through in this particular workout is universal yet so simple. You learn to drive on through the doubt and pain while encouraging your teammates around you. That is beautiful pain.
This year I wore some old body armor and carried the Sisu Hammer for the entire workout. I carried it on the run, held it on top of my feet while doing strict pull ups, and held it in my hands during the squats and push-ups. The hammer simulated a protection weapon that men better than me aren’t here to carry anymore. It represented a weight that I felt honored to carry, and no matter how heavy it was, it was a gift of burden that shows I am alive and can feel pain. How lucky am I? Continue reading
*Three months after the words of Part I.
Its not what happens to you, but how you react that matters. -Epictetus
Every obstacle is an opportunity. I truly believe that. In this case, the obstacle gave Connor the opportunity to live. At this point we have been through five intrauterine blood transfusions and have kept Connor alive. The doctor has successfully transfused Connors blood through a long needle that went though Amanda’s stomach, into her womb, and into a vein in the umbilical cord. We were very fortunate to have this option. Here’s why. During this process, we were getting regular ultrasounds to check the status of Connor’s hydrops (cranial/body swelling and heart size). At one of our standard ultrasounds he switched over to a type of ultrasound that shows blood flow. What he saw was another very rare condition called Vasa Previa. Vasa Previa, in our case, was a fetal blood vessel from the placenta that was crossing the entrance to the birth canal. If that vessel ruptured, Connor would suffer from rapid fetal hemorrhaging and die within minutes. The fetal mortality rate is estimated to be as high as 95% if not diagnosed before birth. Amanda was immediately put on bed rest, even though she had been CrossFitting almost daily till then. We needed to restrict her movement as much as possible and for as long as possible. We prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. The doctors wanted her in Labor and Delivery for seven weeks antepartum, in Continue reading
Resilience and community are the two most powerful aspects of CrossFit. Here are some thoughts on both.
After attending the 2016 CrossFit Games I realized that I watch very little of the actual competition. It’s not that I don’t enjoy watching the athletes character on display, it’s because there is something going on at the Games that I can’t catch later on ESPN or Facebook. What is important to me is the people and the relationships that are built. I like to get out and talk to people from all over the world. I always learn so much and I’m humbled by the universal bond CrossFitters share. That is where the magic is and it can’t be made up by watching replays.
A Sisu Story
This goes out to all of us that have been or are going through a set back. In CrossFit, we get to see the power of the human spirit. The innate nature to triumph over hardship, to show resilience, and to fight back together against pain are my favorite things about CrossFit.
This was a challenge developed from a discussion with a very good friend of mine, someone I have been CrossFitting with since 2006. We were looking for a goal to try and reach by a month out. Not competing anymore coupled with the amount of time we have been CrossFitting, we were looking for something to spark our drive.
Pull ups are very underrated by most people and I feel it is an essential skill especially for someone that trains. You can walk into a any gym in the world and you would have a hard time finding someone that can do 20 strict pull ups, let alone 25. Same can be said with push ups. There is something very humbling about not being good at doing something as simple as push ups, yet they are a very perishable skill. These two components alone are the where I expect people to have to reevaluate themselves.
The standards are as follows, however, I don’t want someone who can’t meet these yet to shy away from this challenge. This is more of an internal workout than external. The goal here is to go hard and learn something about yourself. To face something challenging and test yourself. Be unconquerable. Continue reading
While at work, I heard a call come in of a 2 month old baby not breathing on the 8th floor of a hotel. I was two blocks away. I had just gone through a refresher course in CPR/AED training a week prior. I was there in seconds.
I parked and ran into the lobby. I saw the elevators were high in the building near the top floors, so the only option was to find and sprint the stairs. I could not sit there and wait while a baby, that I could help, was not breathing. I was in a wool uniform with a vest, gear, and boots and I had been sitting down for a while. None of this matters at a time like this. What matters is I flew up the stairs as fast as I could to put myself in a position to save a baby’s life. While I was running up the stairs I had a very familiar feeling, like I had been there before. I had been training for this moment for years thanks to my CrossFit training. It was very clear to me why I had been doing what I had all this time. I was not only able to sprint up the stairs quickly, but I was able to stay calm and recover my breath quickly once I reached the destination. This allowed me to be in position to save a life with poise.
This is a letter I gave to my father while he was battling cancer while my wife was pregnant with our first son, my dads first grandchild. The year was 2012.
Today I am going to start writing documents like this one to give to my son (your grandson) some day when he is of age. I am going to save copies in the computer and print out hard copies for a book of some sort. I really like reading the stuff you and mom put in my baby book, so I want to pass those special type of moments on. I figured I would write you first and include it in our book.
There are a lot of things I want to share with you but sometimes have a hard time articulating them. I am hoping this helps and you have the strength to read this stuff at your leisure. I know what you are going through is painful, frustrating, and scary and it will get worse before it gets better. One of my goals is to help you maintain a strong spirit and ferociously powerful will! Your flesh is going through hell but you don’t have to sacrifice your spirit. You are not merely your body. The will is stronger. I love you, we all love you. So keep fighting with your head up.
I want to share a Father’s Prayer with you by General Douglas MacArthur. With our pregnancy and the growth of our son this prayer has been very important to me. I have read it many many times wishing it to come true for Amanda and I.
I have been blessed with the health and ability to complete several physical tasks. This includes things like running, competing in CrossFit, playing sports, carrying my kit, lifting my kids off the floor, etc. This ability comes and goes with certain injuries. When it happens we focus on what we can no longer do and when we have it we complain that things like running and burpees suck. There was a time when my hamstring was blown out and I couldn’t do something as simple as walk quickly across the street and jump up a curb because traffic was coming. I lost the ability to play frisbee at the beach (if I wanted to do that). I wasn’t only thinking about fitness, I was thinking about my wellness and quality of life.
While being injured can be physically and emotionally painful, that is something you have control over. That is the time you make a decision. Part of the pain is the loss of a gift you had and you want it back. Choosing to accept your current predicament and focus on the gifts you still CAN do is the path to strength and appreciation. Getting injured is good. It’s an opportunity to slow down, regroup, appreciate what you do have, and to come back better than you were before. It’s also a lesson that movement is a gift. Health is wealth. Don’t pollute that gift with complaints.