Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The darkness, burdens, and overcoming - 2012 version

Well it's 12/12/12......I'm writing this, so I'm obviously still alive and the world hasn't come to an end.  The Mayan's may have predicted today to be the end of the world but I guess they somehow didn't see the fucking Spanish coming, did they?  Yes, I know it's the 21st but I wanted so badly to use that joke today.

At first I wanted to write that 2012 was not a great year for me.  Anyone who knows me and is close to me, knows the struggles I have had this past year.  Not so much with myself, but dealing with the many struggles of those I hold closest to me.  It's been a very, very, trying year.

I try to "talk" candid when I write to you guys because, fact is, I know everyone is fighting a great battle in their life.  The many times this past year the blog was such a big outlet for me, because I do a lot of internalizing about shit I am going through.  So I "vent" through my writing very often, and very often I get an e-mail or message from someone that is also having a great battle, and they tell me that my words helped them somehow.  That is a very big blessing to me, to hear that my words were inspiring or gave them strength.  Because I've had days this past year, where I felt so low that I can remember sitting at a red light hoping that when it turns green, I will proceed through it, and an 18-wheeler will t-bone me at 100 miles an hour.

One thing all of my friends and loved ones will tell you about me is this.  I love and care about those closest to me, with everything I have.  So when I see them suffering, I suffer with them.  I grieve with them through it all.  There have been many I hold dearest to me this year, that have suffered much.  Sometimes carrying their burdens or problems, can get heavy.  I will never complain, but it doesn't mean it doesn't take it's toll either.

Someone told me earlier this week, "the worst thing about being the strongest, is that no one ever bothers to ask you if you're alright."

That almost put me in tears.

But here I sit writing this, and things are swell.  The best they have been all year, really.  One of the best things about surviving an emotional onslaught, is that you can really soak up the euphoria when the massacre subsides.  You can appreciate the joy for all it is worth, and bathe in the glow of it.  In a phase, you can really embrace happiness.

Who can understand what darkness is when all they have had is the light?  And who can appreciate that light, without ever having walked in darkness?

One of the things I wrote earlier in the year, as a reminder to myself that I got a lot of feedback from, was about keeping your integrity sound throughout the Tsunami shitwave we sometimes call life.  That it will subside, and after it does, how did you handle yourself?  Did you hold true to your code?  Did you have a lot of apologies to hand out?  Did you grow stronger from it, or did it weaken your resolve?  Did it make you better, or bitter?

We often try to justify our bitterness and anger because of things that have happened to us.  It makes so much sense to feel angry and betrayed when people lie to you, steal from you (theft can mean all sorts of things in this context), and betray you.  Surely, you have every right to be bitter and upset.  And you should be, right?

Or do you have all the control?  Do you get to decide how much energy you decide to invest in that?    

Of course you do.

Negative energy will take a tremendous toll on you.  Everyone knows this.  It will consume your life.  You will wake up in the morning, pissed off about what someone said or did, and you will feel justified in feeling that way.  You will find one of your "enablers" to complain to, so that you can feel even more justified in being a bitter bastard.  They will tell you that you were wronged, and that you should be pissed off.

"Fuck those assholes!!!"

Or, you can really be strong, and decide that you have all of the power.  You can let go of it.  That girl that cheated on you (or dude), that raise you didn't get, that review that wasn't so "fair", the shit someone said about you, that asshole that stole from you, or the people you know whose lifeblood stems from the wellspring of lies, backstabbing, and deceit.

When I wrote the lifer series, it was about all of that.  Embracing the power you have at your disposal right now.  It's worth more than any deadlift or bench you will ever hit.  Because lifting is not going to shape who you are.  I know lots of shitty people in lifting.  Lifting does nothing to humble people or make them better people, unless they use it as a tool in their life to do so.  But it can only be that.  Just a tool in the toolbox.  The most powerful force you posses, the strongest ability you have in your body already exists.  You just have to learn how to harness it.

In the Matrix (yes, I'm using a god damn Matrix reference here), Neo didn't believe in his abilities, or that he might have something very powerful inside of him.  He doubted everything he was told, even though it was all there.  He doubted so heavily, that he found himself getting his ass kicked by Ike Turner in a sparring match. It wasn't until he was put into a position where he had to act in regards to the people he cared about, that he summoned what was deep inside of him, and was able to use it.

Until you realize, or learn to apply the things that make you powerful, you will be weak.  Ike Turner will kick your ass.

So there I was, sitting at the red light, hoping for that 18-wheeler to come barreling through, then.....I snapped the fuck out of it, and stopped doubting how strong the warrior inside of me was.  I thought of all of the friends I've lost, the things I have survived that seldom know about.  I was reminded of the people that I love and care about, that were in my life......and they need me.  And I need them.

I looked both ways before proceed through the light when it turned green, and the Lion in me kicked my own ass.

"Fuck that attitude, and fuck that shit!  I have asses to kick, shit to write about, weights to lift, and necks to hug.  I have laughs to make and smiles to cause, and somewhere there is a porch I need to sit on when the hair that isn't on my head is gray, and I can reflect back on all of the battles I have fought and won.  I'll need an equally wrinkled hand to hold, and a good dog to pet.  I'll still need a friend who gives me shit me, but also takes shit in return.  I have a legacy to finish carving out!"

My reflection now, is that 2012 was one of the greatest years of my life.  I lost a great friend due to his own arrogance, but he was replaced by many who are even better, and have enriched my life in so many ways.  I lost three friends due to suicide, that makes me appreciate life more than ever, and realize that it's ok to reach out to someone when my burdens are heavy and say "can you help me carry this?"  

I have made amends with someone that used to be a good friend, that I felt wronged me.  He never had to apologize.  I simply forgave him.  Why?  Because I have that power, and I chose to exercise it.  It felt awesome to be able to let that go, and not have it eat away at me.  I have been able appreciate my parents more, through the eyes of a friend who lost one of his.  I have learned what it means to stand by a friend when it meant possibly ridicule and scorn, because of things that had nothing to do with me.  That it's always easy to be friends with someone when they are awesome, but so many people have no clue how to stand by them when the mob is lined up against them with stones their hands.

I have grown.  I am stronger and better in every way, because of the darkness.

That's winning, right there.

I have grown as a father and a husband so much, and learned just how much further I need to go in order to just be "good" in my own eyes.  I want to be the best in both of those regards.  I need that god damn #1 DAD shirt!  I have gained the best training partner I have ever had, and I get to watch her become more and more arrogant every week because of her "big muscles".  This is a blessing I never had before, and am thankful for everyday.  

I have grown in the weight room, and in my knowledge of the evolution of my training, and I can't wait to expound on more of that with you guys this year.  I want and hope that all of you are kicking more ass at the end of 2013 than you ever thought possible.    

Lift-Run-Bang isn't a program, or a "method".  It's a philosophy and a lifestyle.  The "BANG" is really about arriving and awaking at who you are, but more importantly who you want to be.  Your jacked and tan body should be the physical manifestation of your jacked and tan mind, spirit, and soul (can you tan your soul?).

Strong and fierce, but loyal, passionate, endearing, and even tender if need be.  You are ever dynamic and strong, but flexible and open.  Thus as it should be both in life, and in training.

To all of you who have been by my side this year to help me laugh, cry, and learn how to live......thank you.


  1. That was a fantastic post. I always enjoy your blog, but that was both profound and inspirational. Really makes me want to surround myself with people like yourself rather than the negative assholes I currently have in my life.

    Great words, man. Really.

  2. Good reminders. I hope 2013 goes a little better for you.

  3. I have read every post of the blog and this is, without a doubt, the best. I can´t thank you enough for it. It couldn´t have come at a better time.

    "Only after disaster can we be ressurected."

    Cheers, man.

  4. 12/21/12 is supposed end of days. Only pointing that out because I look forward to another post that day.

    1. You are correct but I wanted to use that Mayan joke so badly today.

    2. Mr. Carter, I read your words and they gave me both hope and strength. This past year has been the toughest of my life. I'm 22 years old and have been battling addiction to alcohol and drugs for the past 4. I lost everything I worked for, and worst of all I lost myself. I have 5 months clean and sober this month, and honestly lifting has become the best outlet for my anger and remorse. Lifting, for me, is spiritual. What you wrote in this post, and how you defined the meaning of lift-run-bang gives me motivation, strength, and hope. May you continue to progress and evolve, and never stop striving to reach your full potential. I don't even know if you'll read this, but thank you, and God bless.

  5. Someone's going through a low point in their life right now. I think this will help them. It certainly made me think.

  6. Awesome post. If you call that a vag throw, so be it. LOL

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  8. Looking forward to Friday with the release of 365.
    Question about recovery; let me first say I agree with you on the whole CNS burnout nonsense that is going around. However, do you believe a person’s ability to recover can be compromised if their sleep is not ideal and their immune system is constantly bombarded with germs? This is situation I'm in right now. I have two toddlers. I have not had quality sleep in years. Additionally my son started pre-school and is bringing home every germ known to man on a weekly basis. Little scamp gets over colds quick but they hit me hard for weeks. I've got myself into a cycle of trying to train through all of this but getting nowhere. I'm able to train consistently for a few weeks but then I eventually get sick. I'll try and train through it if it’s a head cold but if it goes into my chest I will stop training until I'm over it. As a result for the last few years I'm taking two steps forward in the gym only to take two or more back. To me the solution would be to go as low volume as possible. Find a training volume/frequency that allows me to gain in the gym but also recover despite the crap sleep and the germ ridden box that is my house. My favorite split is a 4 day upper/lower split. Upon having my first child I determined it was too much and switched to a 3 day total body split. That's been working up until recently so I am toying with the idea of a 2 day total body or a 2 day upper/lower split. What do you think? Did you have to adjust your training when your kids were younger? Will 365 be something I can still follow despite the issues raised above?

  9. Paul, these last 3 weeks have been a living hell.

    I needed this.

    Thank you.

  10. Sorry this has been such a hard year for you man. 2013 will be better. Bring it in with San Pedro cactus like the Mayans would have (look it up, and you'll know what I'm talking about).

  11. Thoroughly enjoyed and totally related with this post Paul. The timing for this one can never be off... this applies to every single moment of our lives and situations.

    Especially now, your words help so, so much as the great battle called life calls upon me in the many battlefields we know: job crisis, training plateaus, shitty social circle, you name it. But because of it, I am a stronger person today than I was yesterday, and continue to grow tomorrow in every fucking way possible.

    Thank you.

    - Nikola

  12. Thanks for the post paul, i look at thus blog multiple times a day for over a year now, even going back to old posts.

  13. Great post. We often can't conrol our circumstances, but it's how we react to them that matters. When I'm in the shit, I try to find something to laugh about. If I can manage that, I immediately feel stronger and am less likely to pity myself.

  14. Great post, Paul. I remember when I read "Awaken the Giant Within" Tony Robbins also talked about how you can always choose your reaction to the events in your life. Once I realised I had that power and chose to exercise it, things became so much simpler. Best of luck to you in 2013. Good or bad you'll come out better on the other end.

  15. Paul I read the first part of your post and was about to tell you to go ahead and listen to suicide note part 1 and put a gun to your chest, but then I got to the second part:

    "Fuck that attitude, and fuck that shit! I have asses to kick, shit to write about, weights to lift, and necks to hug"

    Words to fucking live by. Death is not winning with those words.

  16. The biggest compliment I can pay this is that I got goosebumps reading it, and that only EVER happens to me when listening to great music. Poetic and beautifully written. Makes me want to be a better man.

  17. Paul. Epic post. It takes huge balls (it shouldn't...but it does) to put yourself out there like you do regularly. I envy your strength, and I don't mean your overhead press.

    You're a great writer and getting better; because it is well done and authentic. Your blog has affected my life in positive way that is real and measurable.

    Happy Holidays. All the best to you and yours.


    1. Thank you for the great words, man. Much appreciated.