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My Grandmother’s Secret

September 30, 2015
This is not the farm of my childhood. I took this driving past a farm in Arthur Illinois. It is a typical Amish family farm.

This is not the farm of my childhood. I took this driving past a farm in Arthur Illinois. It is a typical Amish family farm.

The year is 1930-something, and the depths of Great Depression are plumbing the souls of people all over the country. My grandmother, who at 5’5″ still didn’t weigh 100 pounds, pregnant as she was, found her way out of the tiny town in Northeast Missouri, where her husband and three children stayed behind for a few days, fed mostly on faith and what food they could scarcely afford. The youngest, my father, was barely a toddler. The small country store they owned, offering provisions to the scant hundreds of people who lived there, had recently been burned to the ground by the only competitor. With it, their home, as it was all one and the same. They were devoutly Christian people, truly the salt of the earth. About the only thing they had going for them at this point was that they didn’t have to fear being lynched. (I am certain they were aware and grateful of that privilege, and would have helped anyone who faced that ugly reality.)

They also had the privilege of being able to scrape together the means for my grandmother to escape, with all the fear, love and shame she had as a Christian woman in the depression, to go to a nearby town and have an abortion. Read more…

What Humanity Sounds Like On A Speeding Train

September 25, 2015

I would tell you that few things can move me to tears, but anyone who knows me would surely chime in that I was lying. Despite my best – and still feeble – attempts at pretending to be a woman of steel, I am at best made of porous mesh with alarming tensile strength. It all works its way in, out and through me, one way or another. I am rather like a living version of a toddler’s sensory toy; feed in stimuli, watch what comes out. It is immediate, and usually predictable.

On a virtually empty El train into Chicago this morning, sunshine making even the metal rails – worn with countless frightened grips wishing for solitude and stability – gleam, fresh. The sound of two young men singing brought rapid, but gentle, tears to my eyes. (Actually, this entire blog post is really just a vehicle for me to put the video of them somewhere so that others can see it. And hopefully trick you into reading about why it is illustrative of things that matter so greatly.) Read more…

Investing In People Is Always The Best Investment

September 22, 2015

Watching him succeed is the best return on investment. (Here he is in American Idiot at Arts West in Seattle.) Photograph by Michael Brunk.

A little over a year ago, maybe a little longer, one of our members brought her little brother into the gym, much like a mama cat might drag a kitten and deposit it at your feet. By the scruff. “We need to fix him.” We’d met him before. Before college, he spent several months working out with us, and we loved him in that way you love a kid with all the potential in the world. You love the present and the future at the same time. Love does that, it warps and combines time that way, but it still somehow feels naturally linear.

But time had passed, and he was a different person. Time hadn’t been kind. He was gaunt, skinny, weak and devoid of the glimmer we’d once seen in his eye. He had been injured, and was now addicted to pain-killers. He was broke, rudderless and 2 days sober with a long road ahead of him. And he was in our gym because, for whatever reason, he and his sister thought that we could help.

We asked no questions, just told him to warm up. Welcomed him home. Read more…

NO to The Huffington Post, YES to These Sites That Pay Writers

August 26, 2015
Since I don't have anyone on staff to choose photos and write captions, you'll just have to picture me as Leia and Arianna as Jabba. (I do own the slave bikini, FWIW.)

Since I don’t have anyone on staff to choose photos and write captions, you’ll just have to picture me as Leia and Arianna as Jabba. (I do own the slave bikini, FWIW.)

If I had one wish for today – besides stopping the wild fires, world peace, an end to hunger and poverty and climate change, and maybe the Republican Clown Car driving off a cliff – it would be that everyone stop reading The Huffington Post. Even just for one day, imagine if no one went there, and we made clear on social media that it’s because THEY DON’T PAY WRITERS! They rake in hundreds of millions of dollars, and do not pay writers. Not only does that suck as profoundly as nibbling on Jabba The Hut’s slimy big toe while he strokes your head and calls you “lovey” and jerks your chain (unless you’re in to that,) it has lowered the bar for all publications out there. (Now I am picturing Arianna as Jabba, and I’m regretting that image.)

It has become acceptable to not pay for content, because, you know, HuffPo doesn’t, so that must be the new normal. Exposure is the new currency – it’s also a thing that people die of.  And if you want to compete with HuffPo for ad dollars, you have to tighten your budget somewhere, so you just don’t pay for content. (And promote lots of click-baity articles and viral videos instead of, you know, intelligent content.) Read more…

Nick Symmonds, Nike, and The Corporate Sponsorship of Sports

August 13, 2015
Celia.Huddart at the Olympic Training Center, wearing her favorite Oiselle shorts. She has 3 pairs, because they gave them to her, and they're all she ever wears!

Celia.Huddart at the Olympic Training Center, wearing her favorite Oiselle shorts. She has 3 pairs, because they gave them to her, and they’re all she ever wears!

What Nick Symmonds wears is important. As one of the best in the world at running the 800M, what Nick Symmonds wears is important to his performance and his livliehood. It’s important to his ability to be one of the best, something that he spends a lot of time working on. And it’s important to Brooks, a clothing company that counts on Symmonds’ winning smile to be a brand ambassador for them. All of which he does so well that Nike thinks they should own him outright, now that he COULD be on Team USA. That is, if he was willing to sign a piece of paper saying that he’d no longer be seen wearing Brooks clothing, despite Brooks being the company that supported him to get to this point.

Symmonds doesn’t want to dump Brooks now that he’s achieved what they’ve been working for together. Because Symmonds is not an asshole. Nike? They might be. Or they might see the light. Because Symmonds has brought this all to the mainstream in a big way, by potentially giving up his spot on Team USA, by refusing to give up his right to wear what he wants when he’s not at official team functions.

Go, Nick! Read more…

President Trump Tweets to the World’s Most Powerful Women

August 8, 2015

Let’s imagine for a moment that Donald Trump is president. Picture him in meetings about the international economy, climate change, world peace – or war. Given that past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior, let’s just imagine him talking to the women who lead in the rest of the world.

Because they do. They have for a long time. Much of the rest of the world is, or has been, run by women. Women who, I suspect, would shut this bombastic bully up quite soundly. But let’s just imagine it anyway. And since we’re imagining, let’s not limit ourselves to the here and now. Let’s just look at what kinds of things he might say, given his track record of tweeting about the ladies:

How do you think he would have gotten along with Golda Meir, who was called “Iron Lady” and “the smartest man in the room,” and very likely wouldn’t have taken an ounce of shit from Trump? Read more…

Pride Isn’t What Comes Before The Fall

August 6, 2015
@Celia.Huddart, doing what she does, working hard and having fun.

@Celia.Huddart, doing what she does, working hard and having fun.

My daughter and I were driving to one of many appointments that surround her blossoming weightlifting career. We have an early A.R.T. appointment, then a massage, then she has to go work out. Her pursuit of a spot on Team USA is a job. For both of us. It never occurred to me that I might be raising a future Olympian. I never would have even tried for that. It came to us – which, I now know, is how it happens. They find you, not the other way around. They’re like a sporting spy agency, and they have secret agents everywhere. But, that’s not the point.

We do all this because we truly believe that she’s good enough to have a shot. She, more than me even, believes that she can and will make “The Team.”

We were talking about Kendrick Ferris, a lifter who we both “love,” in that way that one loves sports stars they don’t really know at all. (My way is a little dirtier than hers, but neither of us know him, which is the point.) I said something about him seeming like such a nice guy, because he does. And while she agreed, she also said that some people think he’s kind of arrogant.

Which we both agreed is absolutely necessary in order to be as good as he is.  Read more…

7 Ways To Stop Dieting Forever

July 21, 2015
If there's one thing I like to do, it's eat. But I hate to diet. I don't think I ever have, actually.

If there’s one thing I like to do, it’s eat. But I hate to diet. I don’t think I ever have, actually.

I spend all day working with men and women to become as strong as healthy as they can be. If there’s any one thing I can say that’s messing us all up, it’s how we think about food. It’s not just food itself, but the incredible drama, dogma and shame that we have about food.


So let’s make this simple. NO MORE DIETS, ever. Got it?

A diet (unless you’re dealing with a medical condition) is a set of rules that someone else made up, based on generalities, myths and averages, that you have to follow and you will feel bad if you mess up, which will probably feed whatever food-related shame issues you’ve already got. (And we’ve all got them.) It’s not even a lifestyle. That sounds like something that requires a uniform and a special language and a handshake so that you know who else is in “the lifestyle,” and that’s creepy. Read more…

I Assume This Is All There Is

July 11, 2015
Us. While we can be.

Us. While we can be.

This, right here, this moment, I assume that this is all there is. This is as good as it gets. I am in my footie jammies, the ones with the gnomes riding on flamingos. They smell odd, I’m not sure what of. Though I do know that I just poured and entire – and very hot – cup of coffee in the bed with me. Narrowly missing my computer which is good, but meaning that I have to wash all the bedding today, which is approximately my least favorite thing to do. So maybe I won’t. The curtains are still drawn and it is grey out, for which I am grateful. It has been entirely too sunny in Seattle lately, and this is a fact, not something that is up for discussion.

This is as good as it gets. This is all there is. Read more…

Maybe There’s No Such Thing As CrossFit

July 9, 2015
Yoga? Pilates? CrossFit? Or just our own mix of things we believe in? Hard to tell.

Yoga? Pilates? CrossFit? Or just our own mix of things we believe in? Hard to tell.

I get asked, all the time, “What is CrossFit.” I’ve started giving a really simple answer: Nothing.

It’s a word. (A trademarked word, specifically.) It’s a brand. (But a brand without clear definition.) It’s a way of doing things. (But not one way, more like a lot of ways, that are kind of similar, but not really.) It’s a concept. (Well, not really, because it changes so much from person to person.) It’s a group of people who share similar values that are organized and led by a guy named Greg. (Oh, hell no. Fuck no.)

There is not a single move done in a CrossFit gym that CrossFit invented. And CrossFit doesn’t tell us how to design and create workouts. (I have never looked at the CrossFit main site for a workout, and I never will.) Read more…


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