Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Greg Maddux: "How Good Can You Be?"

Greg Maddux, one of the celebrity athletes who played in the 2014 American Century Championship Golf Classic July 16-20, 2014 was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame just one week later. To look at Maddux, you wouldn't think it to be true, especially wehn I saw him standing next to any of the other pitchers in the tourney—like Mark Mulder or Derek Lowe. Known as "Mr. Peepers" his size and stature is makes little to no impression. But his accomplishments on the mound and his speech certainly do.
Inducted with former teammate Tom Glavine and of course "the Big Hurt."
Mike Marteny writes "Maddux was a second round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs in 1984, and made his major league debut in September of 1986.  He went on to win 355 games with a 3.16 ERA and 3,371 strikeouts in his 23 year career with the Cubs, Braves, Dodgers, and Padres.  Maddux won 15 games or more in an astonishing 17 straight seasons, and was the catalyst behind the Braves’ dominance in the 1990′s."

Obviously, athletes are inducted for personal accomplishments in their sport. But sports hall of fame induction ceremonies, and I've been to a lot of them, reference a little more than the wins and losses, records broken, etc. Said events are charged with emotion and gratitude; each one typically contains a kernel of wisdom or a moment of grace. Maddux's was no exception. After thanking both of his parents, older brother Mike, former teammates and coaches he said: 
AKA "Mad Dog"
[Former Cubs pitching coach] Billy Connors asked, 'Do you ever wonder how good you can be?'" Maddux said. "Of course, I said, 'No.' He said, 'Why don't you go out there and find out?' I've been trying to find the answer to that question every day since."

What a great question: How good can you be? I love the question as much as I love the fact his coach asked him to consider the answer.

Has anyone ever asked you that question? Have you asked it of yourself? What if we all did? What if we each considered how good we could be in any area or domain we are passionate about? What if we invited those we care about to do the same? How good of a student? How good of a coach? How good of a friend? an athlete? a spouse? a colleague? an artist? 

What I also appreciate is that Maddux does not answer this question. Instead he reveals that it is one that he has lived with. The quest for the answer—success or goodness—fueled the journey. The destination? Well obviously Cooperstown is one of those. Not a bad one.

Thank you Greg Maddux for this life lesson, for my first memory of you as someone Will Clark got a hit off of in the 1989 NLCS (for the win!) and you're right when you said "those of us play this great game and make a living at it are all extremely lucky." Luck, support of family and good mentors and a very important question as well.

Photo Credits

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Barry Bonds: How Do We Celebrate 50 Years?

50 years today: b. July 24, 1964
I walked into the boutique on Chestnut Street in San Francisco and looked at the tall, fit African American man standing in front of me as though I knew him. He looked sharp in his sky blue Izod Lacoste polo shirt, fresh sneaks, stylish watch; he was rockin' the shoulder bag too. I was trying to figure out why he looked so familiar and then I heard his voice. I know that voice; San Francisco Giants fans know that voice too. It's somewhat high pitched, a little soft spoken. It's the voice of the Home Run King* Barry Bonds. Today is his 50th Birthday.

Barry Bonds. I wish I could liken this story to that of the Good Shepherd. John 10 states "he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run way from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I am the good good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me."

Indeed, we know Bonds voice, but unfortunately, it's not for reasons that we might associate with Christ's parable of the Good Shepherd.

On the Feast of the Good Shepherd, Pope Francis preached on how one might become more like Christ in this way. According to the Holy Father, a telltale sign of a good shepherd is this: they smell like sheep. 

"You know how you smell like sheep?" he queried. "Well, spend a lot of time with sheep and you know one thing: they don't smell good." In order to smell like sheep, you have to roll up your sleeves and jump in—up close and personal, get down and dirty. Although you smelling like sheep might not be a welcome thing, something else will transpire. They will know you. A relationship will develop. They will listen and follow. Loyalty, understanding, affection, and it won't run one way. 
Bonds watching "Bonds on Bonds"
Unfortunately there are many examples that point to how and why Bonds smells little to anything like his teammates. Bonds never showed up for the team photo. He was always photoshopped in to include the face of the MVP for the poster. He never ate the team spread. Nothing is more communal than breaking bread together. Bonds ate elsewhere. And what many find most egregious is that he had his own corner and the proverbial recliner in the locker room. A former baseball coach I work with said "He was a selfish teammate, an inattentive father and husband and a poor role model." What bothers me most however is that it could have been different.

Bonds filled the seats in the stadium. We celebrated wildly when he broke the Home Run record, albeit not everyone. He carried the team into the 2002 World Series and helped the G-men ear the 1997, 2000 and 2003 West Division titles. The son of a former Giants and the Godson of the greatest one, Willie Mays, we wanted to love #25. We wanted to stand tall and proud behind who could be the greatest Giants of all time. For many reasons, Bonds made this difficult.
He completed his career with 762
However, I think it's important to point that some people do stand behind him. Perhaps you have heard, there is a group that is using Kickstarter to crowdfund the construction of a life-size bronze statue of Barry Bonds, to be installed near AT&T Park. One of the leaders writes:

Barry Bronze is a purely positive campaign, and we're ready to work with anyone that will help us show our appreciation of a spectacular player. Bonds has made all of us better fans. His signing back in 1993 by Peter Magowan helped solidify the Giants organization here in San Francisco. In fact, Magowan realized the importance of Bonds' Bay Area roots and signed him before the Giants even had a general manager! Barry's efforts at Candlestick Park drove the Giants to build what is now known as AT&T Park, the best ballpark in the United States. Barry Bonds has delivered countless amazing memories and loads of entertainment and we just want to say thanks.
No doubt, this campaign has caused me to reflect on Bonds' career, his contributions, charisma and character. Like many things in life, it's complicated—no? On his 50th birthday, I would rather we appreciate the good times and great memories with the All-Star, even though they smell funny.
I recently learned that it wasn't until the third century that Christians started to include a crucifix or cross as a focal point of our churches The central image was one of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. He knows each and everyone of us. He laid down his life for us. He led, today we continue to follow. It's hard to say that about Barry Bonds.

NB: The front office of the Giants has extended a small olive branch in asking Bonds to serve as a hitting instructor during the 2014 Spring Training. It remains in question whether or not he will be inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame. Bonds wasn't the only player to use steroids during the era he dominated.

Photo Credits
Good Shep

Bonds on Bonds
Bonds Today

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fernando Rodney: Pride vs. Humlity

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
                —Matthew 23:12
Jesus' words are indeed challenging; it's a tough message because it is true. And sports finds a way of revealing this time and again. Fernando Rodney, the ace closer of the Seattle Mariners provides a recent example. 

To be honest, Rodney is a bit of an easy target. The 37-year old Dominican pitcher is the only player in the game who wears his lid so blatantly to the side. In Golf Boys 2.0 Rickie Fowler mentions going "flat bill." Rodney has followed suit. His look is smug and so his an eye-catching ritual on the mound. Bill Baer writes "Though it's done in the name of good-natured fun, Fernando Rodney's bow-and-arrow celebration after nailing down a save has, at times, rubbed people the wrong way."

I know for a fact that were Rodney to play for a rival team of the San Francisco Giants, I would be one of those people. But because he pitches in the AL, I find his antics entertaining and colorful. But even more amusing is how a divisional rival, the Anaheim Angels responded.

Right now, the Angels have the second best record in all of MLB, but they are a game and a half back of first place. The Mariners are trailing by nine games. Rodney came into the Sunday afternoon contest at Angel Stadium (July 20, 2014) in the eighth inning with a 5-4 lead. When Rodney secured the final two outs, he pulled a bow from the imaginary quiver he carries on his back and shot it at the Angels dugout. 
No denying that throwing the fastball the was he does isn't easy, especially on the road, but his performance took place with one inning to go. And wouldn't you know it, the Mariner hero—one who exalted himself—was humbled. 

Baer wrote "the Angels decided to borrow it when they came from behind against Rodney and eventually walked off 6-5 winners in the ninth inning on Sunday. Mike Trout led off the ninth inning with a walk, then used his speed to score from first on an Albert Pujols double to right field. After Trout scored, Pujols mimicked firing a bow-and-arrow towards Trout (and, he says, the Angels dugout). Trout returned the shot back to Pujols. The Angels would take a 6-5 victory when Grant Green pushed a two-out single up the middle to score Josh Hamilton."
Trout was the MVP at the 2014 All-Star Game where Rodney shot his arrow at the NL.
All parties involved say its just Rodney's "schtick." And Rodney said “I did it for the fans. When I came out, they booed me. I did that for them. It’s part of the game.” It is...and it isn't.

Rodney's antic, which I also noticed at the All-Star game, has made me wonder: Why is pride so entertaining? Why isn't humility more appealing? Is there a middle-ground?

I also thought that these questions should never be considered in isolation. I thought: Do Rodney's teammates and coaches appreciate his pride? Does it lend itself to a selfless mentality or group flourishing?  Can one person really take the spotlight or does that happen at the expense of others?

If pride weren't so tempting, it wouldn't one of the seven deadly sins. But every human battles it in their own way. Some of us put it on display in the middle of a baseball diamond and our opponents are are too happy to call us out. The best part of this story however is that a lot of people had a lot of fun with it—and I believe even Rodney showed a little humility is enjoying it as well.

Remember, it's only July so the heat isn't on in the way it will be come September. Oh, and I have a feeling Fernando Rodney's quiver is still full. 

Photo Credits


Saturday, July 19, 2014

What's It Like to.....

There are many things beyond my comprehension. Examples include the ever expanding universe, the hard stuff like SIDS, cancer or why so many Americans go hungry on a daily basis, but also how totally selfless some people are with their time and talents. Sports also provides a host of other examples, good, bad and otherwise.
Watching golf at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship Tournament at Edgewood in South Lake Tahoe, one need not look hard or far to see Heavenly Ski Resort. I can't imagine what a thrill it must be to make my way down the mountainside on skis without fear. The view is breathtaking, the adrenaline rush must be exhilarating. 

One of the celebrity players is Golden State Warriors' point guard Steph Curry. Seeing the All-Star with a 3-handicap play golf today, it's hard not to wonder how this man who is 6'3" and very trim is able to play against athletes who are much bigger and stronger. 
Fans line up along the 18th hole which is on the beach and toss the celebrity players footballs, hats, etc. One fan set up a basketball hoop and threw a ball to Curry. He nailed a sweet three pointer from the fairway ;-)
Each sport on the professional level offers its own tasks and challenges; it can also reveal the incredulous and awesome abilities, talents and skills of humanity. It's one thing to throw a fastball at 100 mph and another to be the batter trying to hit it. I would love to know what it must feel like to slam dunk or make a penalty kick. What's it like to break a tackle, find a hole, juke left and then right and run the ball 50-plus yards into the end zone. Tell me Edwin Moses, how were you able to run the 400 meter hurdles with such speed and strength? You made it look effortless. And on the eve of The Open Championship, as a golfer, I am dying to know What it's like to win the British Open? 

For one more day, the person to answer that question is the 2013 champion Phil Mickelson. But there's one more question, I need him to answer: What's it like to drink a $40,000 of wine? I want to know because that's what he did from the Claret Jug after his first Open victory.
“One of the things that I stressed is that we have to treat the claret jug with reverence and respect that it deserves and only put good stuff in it,”
When I first learned this story, I tucked it away in the file of British Open lore (John Daly has another one of my favorites). But the more I thought about it, the more it didn't sit well with me. The moral sensor in me went to the alarm mode. I debated blogging about it, but thought I should do so in the form of raising ethical questions. Is it ok? 

I decided I should read a little more about the story. And what I learned made me smile. Mickelson stressed the importance of reverence and shared how he found  joy in communion. The bottle, a 1990 Romanee-Conti was a gift and it was a surprise. Not a bad way to celebrate. 
One of my favorite lessons: The team is never just "you."
So what's it's like to win the British Open? I think Mickelson offers a very small insight into an answer to a question that is beyond my comprehension. Tomorrow, a new person will have his own answer. I hope his reveals beauty and truth as well; I don't doubt the journey to get there will too.

Photo Credits
The original Splash Brother

Monday, July 14, 2014

St. Kateri Tekakwitha: Proud To Be...

Today, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. Cannonized by Pope Benedict in November 2012, she is a great many things—convert, patroness of the environment and ecology (like Francis!), virgin and the first Native American to be declared a saint. Known as the "Lily of the Mohawks," St. Kateri is the daughter of a Mohawk Warrior. However there is one thing she is not, and that's something that is part of public discourse in the wide world of sports today. She is not a "Redskin."

A number of collegiate and professional sports teams have changed their mascot out of respect for native peoples. Stanford University, once the Indians, is now the Cardinal. Seattle University—the Chieftains are the Redhawks, and today the St. John's Redmen are the Red Storm. Other teams however, have yet to do so. And it's a question they have had to answer. Should they? To what degree does a mascot marginalize a group of people? Does it promote or compromise human dignity? 
But a small sampling of sports teams with Native Peoples as mascots.
I'm sure the public relations people at the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves (baseball), Chicago Blackhawks (Hockey), Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins (football) have an answer. This brief video however, shared with me by my friend Craig proved to be thoughtful, important and it reinforced my understanding that racism can be underhanded and insidious. Unless we are taught about perceptions amidst misconceptions, what may appear to be innocuous—like a mascot—can only reinforce misunderstandings, hurt and lies. "Change the Name" is seeking to put an end to this. 
SFGate reports that “The R-word is as derogatory a slur as the N-word,” Marshall McKay, chairman of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation said in an online video. “When this name first came to be, it was a vehicle for people to bring the victims of violence into an office so they could collect a bounty.”
"The NFL and the Washington team have faced increased scrutiny to change the name. Recently, several prominent national media outlets said they would refuse to refer to the team by the epithet it uses for a mascot."
An interesting alternative that has been offered...
Like many native people, St. Kateri suffered a great deal in her life. She contracted small pox, a disease which took her mother's life when she was just four years of age; it left her face transfigured with scars. She suffered greatly for her faith by her own people. But, devotion to her is also responsible for establishing Native American ministries in Catholic Churches throughout the US and Canada.
Today, we celebrate and honor her dignity. Let's do what we can for all Native Americans as well.

Photo Credits
Washington Warriors
Proud to Be

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Freedom in Sports....

A friend who does not play golf recently asked me "what do you talk about for four hours?" I smiled and said, "well, everything. But really, you just end up talking a lot about golf." And I find that incredibly liberating.
I can guarantee they're not talking about Benghazi

It's funny, but one of the great joys I find in sports is freedom. Freedom from the multi-tasker in me who aims to check 3-5 things off my list at the expense what I am supposed to be doing. When engaged in an athletic activity, the only thing I have to think about the next shot or how to recover from the past mistake. I also relish the freedom from having to offer my opinion on controversial topics like gay marriage or what we pay professional athletes, the plight of being single in San Francisco or family matters. No, when I play golf, I get to talk about how many yards I am from the green, what club I should use and how beautiful the area around me might be.

Each sport can lend itself to its own nuanced conversation. For many teams sports, athletes inevitably discuss how to execute a play or read a defense. As a rower, I know we were constantly rapping about how to improve the set of the boat. Runners discuss pace and food. Insert your own sport and dialogue here. As a golfer however, one thing I had never considered talking about is a passage of Scripture. Thanks to my man Bubba Watson, a devout "Christian, husband, daddy and pro golfer" (@BubbaWatson, Twitter), I learned about a new spiritual discipline.

Love following this guy on the PGA & Twitter
Watson is good friends with Webb Simpson, winner of the 2012 US Open and a fellow Christian. From "Bubba Watson TV," I learned that before Simpson plays a round, he writes one passage from the Bible in his yardage book and reflects on it between shots. He shares this passage with his caddy and the two of them break open its meaning and how it relates to their lives.

Simpson said, "We share what we read, what we learned from that passage and what God's teaching me through the Word." He added, "it's good to talk about other things that just golf out there. We're together for five hours!"

The structure of golf may lend itself to this spiritual exercise. With its frequent interruptions and the fact that both parties are looking off into the distance, golf may make it easier for people to open up about their faith and how God is speaking to each one of us.

Also, that yardage book can also serve as a diary of sorts. Simpson knows exactly what passage of scripture he played with during the final round of the US Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Simpson carried 2 Corinthians 12:9 in his heart. 
It says:  
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Simpson said "I was so nervous and I felt very weak on that back nine, but God was with me. I didn't pray to win. I re-read it many times that day asking that I'd feel God's presence and peace. I still look at that entry from time to time."
Ryder Cup...coming this Fall. Watson & Simpson teammates and friends.
It might be hard to dive in and ask the next person I play a round with to share a Bible verse, but I know they're on to something there. 

I hope that my next coaching venture will be as a golf coach and I would relish the opportunity to expose young people to this exercise. It might be fun to see who takes to it...who carries it with them on the course...and who makes this their own...inviting family members and friends to pray as they golf. 

Praying on the golf course might offer an unexpected freedom; one that makes me think I should give this a shot...

Photo Credits
Bubba and Webb talk about golf

Twitter Profile Pic

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sports & Spirituality in Japan

When in Japan, one must take photos with this gesture.
It is NOT a salute to USC.
As a frequent traveler, let me offer one piece of advice to any individual or family who is preparing for a summer vacation: go to an "away game." Please know however, I offer this recommendation in the context of sports and spirituality.

Vacation ought to be a time away from the obligations of work, the demands of our domestic duties. For many it's also a break from eating healthy, exercising and more and more, our religious practices. I would like, however, to suggest otherwise. Sitting in Tokyo's Narita Airport waiting to board Air Nippon Airlines for San Francisco, I can't help but think of the two great highlights from this summer sojourn. Again, they pertain to both sports and spirituality.

This was my first visit to Asia and more specifically to Japan. I arrived in Osaka, traveled to Kyoto—Japan's ancient capital and concluded the trip in its modern day capital Tokyo (both words include "kyo" the word for capital and "to" means town). 

Spirituality: In Kyoto I visited temples many of which were constructed in the Edo period—over 800 years ago. Protected as World Heritage Sites, these centers for public worship were culturally and religiously fascinating. I learned about the purification center, how to pray at various shrines: two bows, one two claps and a concluding bow. Their usage of incense and candles isn't much different than those that can be found in Catholic churches (neither is the space for the donation).
The water purification is a necessary ritual before entering into a temple.
A personal highlight for me however was attending Catholic Mass at St. Ignatius Church on the campus of Sofia University. The presider was a Jesuit priest; I know this because his stole was adorned with the logo of the Society of Jesus. Although the entire liturgy was in Japanese, the order of the Mass was no different than those I have attended my entire life. 

I was anxious to discover the differences between the "home" and "away" Mass. I was not surprised that during the sign of peace, we bowed to one another. The kneeler caught my eye as it resounded of Eastern spirituality; it was a simple block cushion. Although more women wore a lace veil on their heads than the faithful at home, the differences were minimal. A cell phone still rang during the consecration, members of the congregation arrived a little late and more sat toward the back than the front of the church. Catholic truly means "universal."
I loved this little "Za Zen" kneeler for Catholic Mass.
Sports: I insisted upon but one thing of my travel companion—Ray—my colleague and friend who I describe as "an early adapter," linguist and insider of all things culturally Japanese. My singular request was that we go to a baseball game. 

I had heard stories that Japanese fans had great cheers. I knew of players in MLB who had played in Japan so they could resurrect their careers. And of course I knew that one of the highest paid players in the game, Masahiro Tanaka  is Japanese. What I saw, learned and experienced trumped what I could have anticipated.

Ray and I arrived at Seibu stadium to watch the Saitama Seibu Lions play the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Not knowing a single player, the language or any of the fans surrounding me I wasn't sure how the experience would translate. Some things however transcend a language barrier or cultural norms—like knowing who is on offense just by the sound of the crowd. 
During the 7th inning stretch, all fans release
balloons that represent their team's colors.
It's true, the variety and sheer volume of Japanese fans was impressive. They used batons (inflatable bats) as rally sticks. Like us, every player has his personal walk-up song, but the fans also have special cheers for certain players. The center of this spirit emanates from the outfield general admission seating. Instead of a set of bleachers, fans are free to put down a blanket, but I'm not entirely sure why. They stood and cheered to the beat of loud drums that were as active in the first inning as they were in the ninth.

I love that when the batter comes to the plate, they announce his surname, followed by his first name. The unspoken message of that custom suggests that we are part of something larger than ourselves, we represent a heritage and a legacy. We bring that with us to all that we do and who we are—even in hitting a baseball.

But what may have been the highlight of my trip, was also the highlight for every Lions fan that evening, that week, heck—maybe this season. Bottom of the ninth, and the Lions are down by 3 runs. They score a run with one out. Four batters and one out later, outfielder Shogo Saito comes to the plate. Bases are loaded and he hits one deep into right field. The walk-off home run. I could not believe it happened. The game started at 6:00 pm and last nearly four and a half hours. It was so magical, I wondered if the clock had struck midnight.

But the joy of feat did not end when Saito crossed home plate and into the arms of his teammates. No, the entire Lions team lined up on the third base line and took a bow in unison. There was nothing formal about this gesture; it was a physical demonstration of gratitude.

Suddenly the fans descended from their seats toward the field. I didn't know what everyone was waiting for, as the team had disappeared into the dugout. Suddenly, a small stage was erected on the field. A Japanese Erin Andrews traipsed in from the outfield and suddenly the hero of the evening #65, Saito, ran out from the dugout for his public interview. 

If you watch professional tennis, you are familiar with this type of interview. Fans were able to hear every question and Saito's response. They laughed and clapped, cheered and smiled. It was awesome. My friend Ray was able to translate much of the Q & A which was great to hear, even though I could understand in my heart the overriding sentiment.

Upon conclusion of the interview, Saito ran to every section of the yard and gave high fives and waves to the fans still inside the stadium. When the Giants clinched the NL West in 2010—on the very last game of the season against the Padres—they completed this same gesture. I stood incredulous at one players' outreach on a Wednesday night game.
The personal touch that both the fans and the players brought to a game I'm already quite familiar with confirmed some truths about our humanity. We are so hungry personal outreach. We are seeking confirmation that what we do—be it as a fan or as an athlete in some small way matters. And it does. It matters because it's the small gestures and practices that reveal how unique we all are and how special we can be. I didn't need to go to a chapel or a baseball park halfway around the world to learn this, but it sure made it easier to see...and that much more fun to enjoy. 

Go to an away game...I want to know what you see and how you see what you already know as a result of that with fresh eyes.

Oh, and I'd like to write an open letter to Brian Sabean about the possibility of incorporating some of that outreach from the players into the fan experience....

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Two Workouts in One Day: Sports & Spirituality Style

There was a time in my life when working out twice in one day, known as a "two-a-day" was a necessary part of training. Even as a coach, I found myself on the water or the trail with my athletes in pursuit of that second practice. But that era has passed. Today however, I snuck in a "two-a-day" of a much different kind. The sport was spiritual and the spiritual was sport. Indeed, I found a symbiosis. 
Very common for runners who need to up their mileage!
The First Workout: The Gym. 
My favorite time to workout is in the morning, in large part because I know that means I will do it. Life is busy. It's important to set aside time for what's most important—for me that's prayer and exercise. When I commit to exercising in the morning it starts my day off right and the rest of life's obligations can take me where they will.

At 6:30 a.m. I met my friend Sam at the gym to lift weights for a hour. No one should lift weights alone. Plenty of people do, and I'm sure they enjoy the challenge weight lifting demands in contrast with the mental focus it requires. For me  however this form of working out is exponentially more enjoyable with a friend. And I consider myself blessed to have a partner who is a great one.
The ratio of men to women in the weight room is way off. Maybe if more women lifted
with a friend, they might commit and learn its benefits!
Sam inspires me with her positive attitude, her commitment to pushing herself, and her sheer physical strength. Sam leads our workouts—she counts our reps, times us and references what we have done in the past to build a better session. But Sam also laughs really loud at my jokes and enjoys my stories. She encourages me and makes the time fly much faster than it would on my own. 

At some point in the workout, I realize how hard we have been pushing one another or how sore my body will be the next day. Sam is in-sync with me on when its time for a break. In between the reps, putting the kettle bell back on the shelf or the set of abs (I hate slow bikes!!!)—somehow, someway, we share our worries, challenges, hopes and goals. Maybe it's easier to open up and reveal the hard stuff when you're breaking down muscle only to build it. There's something spiritual in the exercise. Maybe you've thought about that paradox as well.
Their new logo!

The Second Workout: The SF-Marin Food Bank. 
One in four children in our country go hungry on a daily basis. I consider this to be one of America's greatest problems. In a nation of such wealth and vast resources, how can this be? We have so many issues that demand our attention, but hunger is one that fills me with righteous indignation, sadness and confusion. Fortunately, I also know how to be a small part of the solution. Your local food bank—and they can be found in cities and counties throughout the United States—can help! 

Last night, I arrived with a group of students I will be traveling to Camden, NJ with at the end of the month for our two hour shift. I came in a long sleeved shirt, athletic pants and a jacket. The Food Bank in the Potrero Hill district is in a giant warehouse and it gets cold in there! However, in less that one half hour into our shift, I shed my jacket and rolled my sleeves up higher.

Our task was to create a "variety pack" of 16 cans of vegetables per box. We boxed, tossed and packaged what amounted to 22,000 pounds of canned vegetables! And by the end of the shift, my body felt it. I thought to myself Do I need to stretch? I was tempted to ask my students Who needs to cool down? I looked at my colleague who had a very healthy sweat going and thought he might. He confessed that this was getting him in shape for Camden, where it can get in the high 90s inside the Food Bank in South Jersey due to their humidity. 
Anyone can volunteer! Even kids!
There's something very similar to a runner's high that fills the air inside the Food Bank when the volunteer groups complete a job well done. The staff is always anxious to report what we have completed and how many people our work will feed. I was most encouraged to learn that 70% of what the SF-Marin Food Bank provides is fresh produce. So many times people who go hungry lack access to fruits and vegetables, healthy dairy and meats. This Food Bank provides good food that is also good nutrition. And none of it would be possible without volunteers giving their time and lending their hands....the lower backs, biceps, forearms, quads, etc.

Symbiosis: The Tip-Off
I'm not a big hard rock fan, but I have noticed that I enjoy it when I'm lifting. For some reason, AC/DC, Def Leppard or a little G&R sounds great when pumping iron. Last night at the Food Bank, I noticed that the radio on in the background was playing the local hard rock station 107.7 The Bone. As I tossed canned goods, lifted those heavy boxes and moved them from one palette to the other, I realized I was getting a second workout on the day. Working with the people beside me, we encouraged one another. We got overly excited for a can of pumpkin to add to our veggie variety box. We knew when the time was right to take a short break. It reminded me of my morning...exercising the body and the soul. The "two-a-day" can be a welcome challenge and yield some impressive results. Give it a shot!

Photos Credits
Women Lifting
Food Bank Logo