3 Lessons I Learned From My Late, Great Mama: A Post For Ol’ Pat Part I

Guys, gals, and fitness pals, I gotta get the hell out of the online fitness game for a while. I’ll explain why I need to walk down that road to maintain my sanity and authenticity in a future post. As David Cloverdale from Whitesnake once sang – sort of – I gotta get going again on my own, going down the road I used to know.

But before I go, I’m putting up a post that I once promised someone. I realized that to honor my word, I needed to put this sucka up before I shut things down, or at least step away for a while.

The story behind today’s philosophical detour begins a little something like this. I was having lunch with my late, great mama a few years back explaining part of what I was doing with my career at that time.

Her sly reply, “What the hell is a fucking blog Nathaniel Jude? Jesus, you should have gone to Notre Dame like I told you to. You haven’t been the same since being around those Berkeley whackos. Now go get me another Chardonnay.”

“Mom, a blog is this thing online where you can basically write about whatever you want to, without having to get approval from a publisher, or censorship from an editor. Hell, I could even write a story about you, and all of the lessons you’ve taught me throughout the years.”

Her eyes and tone lit up, almost faster than her next cigarette, “Really? Promise me you will some day son.”

“I promise ma”.

Good thing she forgot about the Chardonnay. She could barely stand as it was. Such was lunch sometimes with Ol’ Pat Irish.

Fast forward to the present day…

Two Warnings Before Reading

I want to share with you 7 lessons I learned from my mom’s style (3 today, and the rest another time because one post would not be enough for this Legendary Lady). But you need a couple of strong warnings before you read it. Parental discretion — as long as its not the spirit of my mom’s — is definitely advised.

1. Profanity

True words aren’t eloquent; eloquent words aren’t true. – Tao Te Ching

When grasped by the collar, for example, these practitioners would “first do this, then this, and finally that” – but of course the direct way would be to let the opponent have the pleasure of grasping the collar and simply punch him straight on the nose! To some martial artists of distinguishing taste, this would be a little bit unsophisticated; too ordinary and unartful. However, it is the ordinary that we use and encounter in every day life. – Bruce Lee.

As you’ve already seen, this post is likely to contain a lot of profanity. You see normally when you write something you know your mama is going to read, or wanted her to see, or promised her you’d write for her, you clean it up to be on your best behavior.

Ha!! For those who knew my mom personally, you knew that just wasn’t her style. When you were around her, the politically incorrect, and even personally offensive haymakers rained down, flew around, and Rocked You Like a Hurricane (Scorpions).

So in her honor, there will probably be some foul language. Fuck it, there definitely will be. For you youngsters, earmuffs – or I guess blindfolds – please.

For the easily offended, you’ve had fair warning that this post has a sentiment more along the lines of Ron Burgundy’s “Go Fuck Yourself” sign-off then his “You Stay Classy” version.

Ron Burgundy2. Extremely Questionable Advice

Yagyu once said, “I know nothing about how to win over others. I only know the way to win over myself.” – Bushido

He studied all the traditional philosophies, but then he began to form his own philosophy, and he came to the realization that you just can’t borrow another person’s philosophy. You have to learn about yourself and create your own philosophy, your own way of life. — Linda Lee (on Bruce Lee).

My mom was a great woman in my eyes, and she taught me more than I could have ever asked for. I am sad that I didn’t really fully appreciate it until after she was gone, in retrospect. As the band Cinderella once sang, “Don’t know what you got ‘til its gone.”

On a side note, all of these subliminal 80’s hairband references are because she liked that music. It’s the songs her sons learned how to play the drums to.

Anyways, my mom also had a lot of weaknesses and faults. And in fact, some of her rebellious style and strategies likely led to a lot of the struggles she had to face later in her life.

So I am in no way proclaiming any of what comes next is good advice. Hell to be honest, it might even be the exact opposite depending upon the path you want to pursue in life.

Her style has helped me more than it has hurt, especially now based on my current fascination with, and prioritization of self-actualization above all else. But you must take personal responsibility and follow this random shit at your own risk. You’re the captain of your own ship. I’m just sharing the history and strategies behind how I steer mine.

And for full disclosure, I’m doing all right now taking an alternative, Vagabond-style path. But that’s probably because I have a relatively low maintenance lifestyle more so than because I’m killing it financially or in the online fitness business space (like some of the other super heroes out there traveling the world and fine dining working 4 hours a week).

And I have an amazing, awesome, Island-girl wife that has a similar style, and is willing to wander and roll with me along that Wave Man road.

So in other words, I’m not and all-knowing guru that has got it all figured out. And I’m not going to pretend I have all the answers, and can solve all of your problems in every area of your life — get rich, get fit, be happy, have it all, etc. I actually encourage you to empower yourself, and take personal accountability and consistent action vs. becoming co-dependent on a guru. Find and follow your own core values instead of trying to copy, or live up to someone else’s.

Damn, enough pussyfooting around with the pontification and warnings – Ol’ Pat’s getting a little impatient as always. So lets take a few swings at this thing.

Lesson #1 – Be Authentic

Most people only live for their image. Where some people have a self, most people have a void, because they are so busy projecting themselves as this or that. This is again the curse of the ideal. The curse is that you should not be what you are…my personal message to people is that I hope they will go towards self-actualization rather than self-image actualization. I hope that they will search within themselves for honest self-expression – Bruce Lee.

The ultimate destination of Bruce’s journey was peace of mind – the true meaning of life. I feel confident that because Bruce chose the path of self-knowledge over accumulation of facts, and the path of self-expression over image enhancement, that he did reach his destiny with a peace of mind. – Linda Lee, Artist of Life

Roll with your own style, be confident and comfortable in your own skin, live according to your own code, say what you mean and do what you believe, regardless of what others may think. That’s how Ol’ Pat passed her time, and paraded around any town – foreign or domestic.

She would walk into some of the nicest restaurants, theater shows, or social events with her trademark Oakland A’s jacket and thrift store sweatpants pulled up to her nipple line, bright red dyed hair flowing, tattoos showing (even before they were cool or socially acceptable); sit down, drop an F-bomb or two, and order a Chardonnay, either oblivious to, or despite any of the sideways glances or sentiments.

In short, she didn’t give a fuck what anyone else thought about her or her style. And she sure as hell wasn’t going to let any uptight, high society types change how she went about her day. I think she might have even flicked a cigarette ash or two on the shoulders of the real dickheads in the crowd, just to mark her territory.

It wasn’t just a social class jealousy thing either. The same renegade style held true wherever we were rolling together, and whomever we were around.

I remember being at an Oakland game one time and some gangster-type fans of the other team started talking trash to us. My mom’s shit talking and cigarette went flying right back at them. Damn I thought we were going down that day for sure.

But I guess they must have respected that a 4’11”, 95lbs firecracker would fight anyone, anytime, anywhere over anything. She probably had a makeshift shank in her purse somewhere. You never knew with Ol’ Unpredictable Pat. I knew she had a gun hidden in the house somewhere when we were growing up. Truth be told she probably belonged more in The Wild West than The Sophisticated Silicon Valley West. Me too man.

Back when you were in the moment, sometimes it made it hard to take her to certain places (almost anywhere actually). But now, especially in today’s Internet Era where everyone is always trying to clamor for attention, compare, put on a show, appease, project an image, and impress, I respect her for it more than ever. Because I know personally how easy it is to get caught up in that bullshit.

There is nothing worse than being around people who live their whole life like some kind of a PR campaign, and are constantly networking and scheming. I’ve been to a few parties and conferences with that vibe and had to get out, get drunk, and watch some porn for a few days straight just to cleanse the palate. Honestly, I feel bad for the people who live their life that way. Sure, they may seem like they have it all on the surface, but everyone eventually suffocates under a mask.

My mom was a freaking PR nightmare. She always wore her heart on her sleeve and said what she meant, even if it didn’t make any sense, and even if it rubbed you the wrong way. Dude, she said some shit to me sometimes that made me just shake my head in disbelief. It’s often why we clashed. But again now that she’s gone, I totally respect it.

And at least I always knew where I stood with her. Hell, everyone knew where he or she stood with her, from siblings to complete strangers, good or bad, within five minutes. I never thought I would pay to hear some Ol’ Pat classics just one more time — from “You’re an asshole” and “I can’t stand those little shits” to “Give me a hug” and “Tell Kalai I love her”.


Too many people are miserable in life because they care too much about what other people think, get caught up in “keeping up with The Joneses”, or these days The Zuckerbergs (unless innovating, solving problems, building businesses, and/or acquiring assets IS your thing, which for a few of my friends I know it is), following the path we are supposed to vs. the one that we truly want, or is the right fit for us, and are trying to live up to other people’s core values and code instead of finding and following their own.

I appreciate my mom providing me with a different example, and giving me the courage to take an alternative route. I believe that one thing more than anything else is why I am relatively happy in life.

Every time I go against that style I feel like a scumbag, stressed out, or totally miserable. Again, I’m not innocent of such despicableness. I often get caught up in it. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons why I need to get offline for a while.

In trying to market and commercialize my shit for profit, and in giving up too much control or compromising across various platforms as part of that process, I feel like things have spiraled out of control for me digitally, and that I’ve lost some of that purely authentic style, and real way of presenting and representing myself, what I do, the way I roll, and what I believe will help people best.

Or the messages are starting to get a little mixed, so I need to shut the fuck up for a bit…

Now, this whole “be purely authentic thing” is probably not the best choice if you want to be successful, at least by normal societal or traditional standards. So think twice before you roll the dice with this piece of advice.

And I realize how lucky we are to be living in this relatively luxurious and socially free Era. To be able to “find yourself”, and “just be yourself bro”, is a privilege that most generations past didn’t have. They were just trying to survive.

All that may change tomorrow based on societal, economic, or personal situation changes. So I’m sure as hell going to take advantage of it all while I still can. To me, that’s more valuable than gold. And it took the hard way for me to truly figure that out.

Perhaps time is the only more valuable commodity. I’ve become a ruthless protector of that, and don’t want to have to spend a single second more not rolling my Way. I guess family deaths have a way of forcing you to meditate upon your own, thus reconfiguring or re-establishing your top priorities.

Lesson #2 – Find That “Something”, But Get Your Shit Done Before Having Fun

Human life is truly a short affair. It is better to live doing the things that you like. It is foolish to live within this dream of a world seeing unpleasantness and doing only things that you do not like. — Hagakure.

The attitude “That you can win if you want to badly enough” means that the will to win is constant and no amount of punishment, no amount of effort, or no condition is too “tough” to take in order to win. Such an attitude can be developed only if winning is closely tied to the practitioner’s ideals and dreams. ~ Bruce Lee

My mom didn’t really have the most positive of outlets for her energy and emotions. You know what I mean — when shit hits the fan in life and you just need something to turn to. So I think she wanted something better for her kids.

That’s why she got us into stuff from an early age, and allowed us the freedom to explore. For some of us it was athletics and martial arts. For those of us that had health limitations, or sports weren’t the right fit, it was music or dance.

Man, I’m grateful for that, for two reasons:

1. No Fear

It made me not afraid to follow my gut, chase after stuff, and give the shit that I’m into a shot. And it definitely made me not afraid to fail or make a fool of myself, which I do often.

In my early 20’s it was martial arts, stunts, and touring as a pro wrestler. In my late 20’s it was rocking around Bay Area bars playing in a band. Early 30’s has been the writing stuff. Seems like every 5 years or so I get that itch to switch, and try some different shit.

At 36, I don’t know what the hell is next. But I do know its time for a change. It might be time to get back to The Way of the Athlete for a little while. I’ve grown tired of sitting around writing about shit instead of actually doing it.

I guess I never lost that child-like attitude of chasing after your dreams, whatever they may be. And as soon as they change, being open and flexible enough to change paths with them.

I don’t know man, at least I feel like that style has kept me young in spirit and with a relatively positive outlook on life. And when I’m old, I’ll never have to look back at my life and say, “I wish I would have tried that.” When my expiration date hits, I want to have experienced everything I wanted to experience.

Thanks to my mom, I feel like I’m off to a good start.

2. The One Thing

Regardless of dabbling in different shit, I feel lucky that I’ve already found that One Foundational Thing for me.

No matter what else I’m doing in life, the fitness and “physique stuff” has provided me with a solid foundation in this chaos called life, and my journey in particular, which of course has been full of ups and downs, successes and failures, achievements and disappointments. Not the reward of it (6-packs and other useless shit), but the process of it.

I have always been able to find comfort, peace, escape, value, and a sense of purpose in the gym, regardless of whatever else was going on around me.

Perhaps more importantly, the lessons I learned in the gym (the strength trainer’s version of a dojo) — discipline, delayed gratification, sacrifice, commitment to a craft, and perseverance — have helped me in all other areas of my life. At the very least, it taught me how to put my energy — both positive and negative — into something constructive rather than destructive.

I encourage you to find something similar. Life can be a roller coaster ride sometimes man. And you need some kind of foundation that provides you with some stability, or an escape, so that when the sudden drops and crazy loops come, you can just put your hands up, let go, ride it out, and survive.

But please don’t misunderstand me. I am part hippie indeed. But that crazy off the menu cocktail also includes my Dad’s Samurai and my Mom’s Irish Grinder’s blood for sure.

My mom was old school Irish baby – a ridiculously hard worker, a martyr at times. She was working 2-3 jobs at 75, right up until the day she died.

Although she wanted us to have some stuff we were passionate about, and positive outlets for our energy and emotions, she insisted that we set our priorities straight and get shit done first, or those things would be ripped away from us in an instant. In other words, we weren’t entitled to anything. We had to earn it.

For example, she knew our potential in school. And if we didn’t get good enough grades, we didn’t get to play (our sports or our music). When I was old enough, I had to get a job to pay for my own football gear, etc.

So you see when I say to find and follow your passion, it’s not really in some weird, abstract, hippie or Zen monk sense where we all drop our responsibilities and end up in the mountains singing Kumbaya, or wishing upon Buddha’s belly for everything we’ve ever wanted in life to just magically float to us.

It is more in the sense of finding those things you are willing to bust your ass and make sacrifices for. Those things you are willing to give your blood, sweat, years, and tears too. It’s the only way you will be able to persevere through the ups and downs of it all, without breaking.

Maybe that’s another reason why I’m shutting things down. I’ve realized its not coaching or writing about the fitness shit that I’m most passionate about. Its actually living it, or participating in it as the athlete/student.

So maybe you make “Your Thing” your career, business, or work. Or maybe it is something completely outside of it. But you gotta have that something you are willing to stay committed to, or at least turn to, no matter what life throws at you.

I get to live my random mixed bag of tricks in life, both in the past, and now (with the physique training, writing, whatever else is next) because I’ve been up at 5am every day for the last 20 years or so busting ass and getting a lot of shit done before many people even wake up — working, writing, practicing, studying, or training away.

And I’ve made and accepted the sacrifices I needed to make in other areas of my life to prioritize following my passions. Despite what the gurus say, I don’t believe you can have it all.

Regardless, I don’t even really like fine dining, nice cars, custom clothes, or traveling all that much (except to see family). I don’t have kids, pets, or a mortgage. I had a plant once and it died within a week. Again, that’s not the most traditional path, or right path for most, but that’s my thing man. Some of those things are the very things that people are committed to, and are willing to sacrifice for. Awesome. Walk Your Way.

Me, I like to dive into the process of learning and grinding away at stuff vs. anything else. And it’s worth it to me to give up other shit in my life to be able to devote as much time and energy as possible to that, without worrying that me or my peeps are going to end up on the streets because of it.

Fighting Irish

So I guess the summary of #2’s rambling is to find your thing, not so much in the Entitled Generation’s sense, but more so in the Irish Grinder’s sense.

Lesson #3 – Don’t Be Ashamed Of, Or Complain About Your Struggles

What IS is more important than WHAT SHOULD BE. Too many people are looking at “what is” from a position of thinking “what should be”… And no matter what some people will say, barriers are not the experience of any one person, or any one group of persons. They are the universal experience – Bruce Lee

Esteem by others or self-esteem, which is better? To value things or to value yourself, which is better? To have more or to have less, which is worse? The more you have, the more you have to lose. The more you value things, the less you value yourself. The more you depend upon others for esteem, the less you are self-sufficient. – Bruce Lee.

When I was a child I once became suddenly aware that a warrior is a man who does not hold his life in regret. — Hagakure.

I’ll never forget this time when I was in high school, and we were struggling financially. My mom was divorced, she had closed down her daycare business, was working several odds and ends jobs to get by, 3 of her 7 kids were in college, etc. We almost had to sell our house and move out to the sticks, but my two oldest brothers saved the day on that one (thanks guys = forever indebted to you).

I mean we always had enough for sure, so I don’t want to misrepresent our situation. And looking back, the reality was we could have prioritized and budgeted better, and not have spent some of our limited cash on luxuries we viewed as necessities (video games, Satellite TV, etc.).

But the reality was that sometimes, there just wasn’t that much extra. And sometimes when we came up short, we needed a little help.

So I remember one lean month, my mom said me and her had to go down to the local church to eat a free breakfast, and pick up a couple of boxes of donated food.

Man, I was so freakin’ embarrassed at first. When we got there, a couple of my classmates were volunteering. They said they were stoked I was going to hang out with them and help serve the community. I had to tell them the truth. I wasn’t there to serve. I was there to eat, and to pick up some food for the rest of the week.

But then I sat there, and watched how my mom proudly carried herself around the community center with her head held high. She didn’t complain about our situation, but instead compassionately talked and listened to some of the other families in our town who were struggling. I quickly learned that everyone struggles at some point. And I thought to myself, man, if she can suck it up, swallow her pride, and do what’s necessary to get by, I can do it too.

Hell, I even went up for “seconds” that day. The shit was free and I was still a fat little bastard….

That single day in my formative years ended up teaching me so many lessons that I am grateful for, and have stuck with me in my subconscious ever since then.

1. Never Take Shit For Granted. Be Grateful for What you Got.

I’m glad I grew up the way I did man. I think it gave me a grounded perspective with a naturally grateful inclination. I mean most of us in modern society, even those who have some struggles, are living in relative freakin’ luxury. And it baffles me when some people that I know who have so much in their lives still feel like infinitely more is lacking?

I guess that’s the curse of the social media Era and the constant comparison game. No one’s real life — at least anyone I know offline — is a Sportscenter-style, Top-10 Highlight reel. There’s always an accompanying blooper, blunder, or tragedy reel that doesn’t get shown.

Besides, what do you truly need in life — some food, shelter, a purpose, a few passions, and a little bit of love and companionship? Most of us have that, or the potential to have that already, if we just take a step back and objectively assess.

What do you want? That’s a different story baby. We want everything. But if you know you already have what you need, you can chase after the rest without as much stress.

2. Don’t give a shit about what other people think of your struggles in specific, or path in general.

Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner. – Tao Te Ching

Every little struggle, set back, or imperfection matters infinitely more if you care too much about what other people think of it in specific, or about you in general. Living solely for the opinions of others is an obsessive (and I think ultimately destructive) way to live. There is no peace of mind, only constant pressure.

Most people following this route end up so far away from who they really are, or what they want to be, that they hate their lives. Once you lose yourself in the traps and habits of that style, sometimes it becomes impossible to find yourself again.

Nothing really matters that much if you can find a way to let go, and not care about what other people think about you. That’s not to say you don’t value and respect the care, knowledge, and advice of your loved ones, friends, or mentors. It just means that ultimately you’re not living your life to please them. You’re making the decisions in your life that are truly right for you, based on your own gut and core beliefs.

Now I know that’s not an easy thing to do, especially these days when our lives are on constant display, with unlimited access, and where everyone seems to have a voice. But just like getting fit or getting rich ain’t easy for most, I don’t think gaining peace of mind is as easy as the hippies and hipsters proclaim it to be either. You gotta work at it.

And for the tenth time, this might not be the greatest path for traditional success. But for personal happiness, it may just be the only Way. It damn sure is the only way you can keep full control of your own direction in life, rather than being at the mercy of others.

If you can drop it all, you can better roll with it all, rather than panic about every minor deviation from some imaginary perfect path. You can better deal with the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, and the triumphs and the setbacks. And when you hit bottom, its easier to crawl out of that hole without the opinions of others weighing you down.

Besides, our struggles are never really as bad as we make them out to be in our overactive imagination. It’s when we start thinking about how they will appear in the eyes of others, or what they will think or say about us, that the illusion of impending doom appears.

The human body is strong. The human spirit is even stronger, and can come back from almost anything. Trust me, with some of the shit I’ve seen in the last two years or so, I know this to be true. It’s our weak minds full of unnecessary anxiety, worry, and stress that ultimately bury us.

So face your struggles head-on without being ashamed, or without worrying about the external noise. And be grateful for the good things you still got going on in your life. Again, maybe this is just my mix of Irish Grit and Hippie Bullshit? Regardless, I hope sharing these strategies helps some of you, in some small way.

All right baby, as Austin Powers once said after a hectic photo shoot with “Ivanna Hump-a-Lot”, “And…I’m spent.”

Austin Powers

This Party for Ol’ Pat is to be continued…