This afternoon, I had the opportunity to sit and meet with one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time – Ronnie Coleman, 8x Mr. Olympia champion. I met with him to discuss a project I’ve been working on over the last few years (Trident Motorcycles) and it was an incredible opportunity to sit with him, talk shop and get to know him.

Prior to the meeting, I stayed up until 4:30am to take care of work projects, as well as do a redesign of the Trident website. The first week of January was a bit of a hell week for me, which culminated in the late night marathon to tidy up loose ends, ship off projects and work with my team to meet a deadline due in the morning. During those late night hours, I had two things on my mind; meeting Ronnie and wondering when I would find time to complete a home project for Atlas.

Earlier in my life, I followed a rigorous bodybuilding regiment and was able to pack 247lb of muscle onto my 6’3” frame. I’d rep 315 on bench press with relative ease, deadlift 500lb., and gaze fondly at the squat rack – which is about as far as my squats went. During that time, I had a ‘warrior’ mentality about my life, and strived for nothing but excellence, growth and achievement.

I’d listen to motivational tracks filled with the voice of Coleman, who yelled his trademark “Yeah buddy!” before his legendary 800lb squat, or 2,500lb leg press. Ronnie inspired me and my fellow ‘brothers-with-arms’ as I called them; Mark and Travis.

Those days were legendary in their own way, and I have a lot of fond memories of being the size that I was. It felt great to be strong. Strong, strong. At that time, I never could have imagined that I’d be sitting down with Ronnie – let alone, being welcomed into his home.

After our meeting, Ronnie obliged my request to take a ‘selfie’ with him, and I grinned eagerly into the camera while taking the shot(s).

Driving home, I battled the drowsiness that sets in after a long night of work. I think that’s when my true ‘beast mode’ kicked in as I realized I had a responsibility to stay awake for; the empty car seat in the back of my car. Atlas. I I cranked Girls, Girls, Girls by Motley Crue, and made it home to the sweet tunes of Alice Cooper.

Most car accidents happen when you’re within 1 mile of your own home. That’s when your guard goes down. Reminding myself of this, I made sure not to let my defensive driving guard down until I put the car in park.

When I got home, that’s when I got to start on the project I looked forward to most that day – even ahead of meeting Ronnie.

Earlier this year, I picked out a book from one of Lewisville’s ‘mini free libraries’ which are scattered in public places. In this case, I grabbed a copy of Cuddle Bear – which quickly became Atlas’ favorite book to read. I keep a copy of it tucked next to my bed, because it’s the first thing we do when he wakes up from his nap; read together.

We usually read that book three times, because that’s how much he loves flipping through the pages and hearing all of the funny voices I make while I read it to him.

“The world needs hugs!” Always lights him up with a laugh that melts my heart.

This week, he wanted to take the book to bed with him, and he tucked in the book, then gave it a hug and a kiss before falling asleep. That’s one of my favorite things he’s ever done…

This week, I decided to try and find a teddy bear that looked like Cuddle Bear – the main character of the book. I realized it was probably going to be difficult to find a 1-1 match of Cuddle Bear, because Cuddle Bear has a yellow plaid heart on his chest, and I’ve never seen a bear with one like it.

That’s when it hit me – “Why not make a Cuddle Bear?” I thought. Instantly, I looked at my calendar and found the time to go to Joanne Fabrics to hunt for the perfect cloth.

My trip to Joanne’s happened right after my meeting with Ronnie. I realized before going into the store that I had worried more about being able to find the right piece of fabric than my meeting with one of bodybuilding’s legends. For days, I looked online to try and find scraps of fabric that looked similar to the fabric in the book, to no avail – thus, I prayed I’d find the right fabric at Joanne’s.

I looked through every single aisle of fabric and wasn’t able to find the right pattern. Disappointed, I found a ‘close second’ for the fabric and started to take the cord of fabric to the counter to get it cut.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small “patch set” of assorted fabrics that had the exact pattern I was looking for.

I can’t tell you the excitement I had in that moment, but it made my heart leap for joy to discover I had found exactly what I had been thinking about for the previous few days. After that, I picked out needles and yellow thread, then checked out before driving my newfound treasure home.

I wanted more than anything to take a nap, or call it quits for the day by the time I got home, but had to complete one final meeting prior to ending my day. I felt exhaustion-drunk during the call, and felt as if my communication wasn’t making sense to the other party, that’s how tired I was.

“It’s still your set, Dad…”

The call over, I was thrilled to finally begin my home ‘plastic surgery’ operation for the bear I bought. Thankfully, the bear had a zipper back, which allowed easy access to remove the inner stuffing so that I could sew. To this date, I’ve never bought or seen a bear that has a zipper on the back like this…it felt perfect.

Threading the needle, I started the process of sewing on the little plaid heart I had just cut out with my scissors. Frankly, I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew that this little gesture would put a smile on Atlas’ face.

I worked in silence, and the process felt incredibly calming and meditative. I thought a lot about my Mom, who often sewed for us children, and I realized that my little project for Atlas was a way of honoring her, and continuing on a legacy of love that she left for her children.

I thought about how much I was enjoying what I was doing, and that the simple act of sewing a bear for Atlas made me feel like more of a badass than any weight I’ve ever lifted or motorcycle I’ve ridden. These days, I think the most badass thing that I can do is be a good Dad to Atlas, and making his Cuddle Bear was one of the ways where I felt a new wave of love for him, even though he wasn’t with me at the time.

Love transcends time and space. It’s one of the threads of God that all of us have an opportunity to connect to when we’re obedient to each moment.

As I was sewing, I prayed for Atlas and his Mom. I thanked God for the opportunity I have to be his Dad, and have the resources of time to be able to complete a project that some might view as insignificant or somehow ‘domestic’ – to me, it felt like the most machismo thing I’ve done in quite some time.

As a Dad, I love the opportunity I have to find ways of showing Atlas love. I also love the way he inspires me to be a better man, human being and Dad, every single day. It’s like discovering a treasure that was hidden in plain sight, yet only for my eyes to see. Him.

This week when I was watching Atlas, I set up a pull-up bar in his nursery and decided to exercise while I was watching him. After I finished one of my sets, I looked across the room and saw him hanging from the doorway of his little house in his room. He was mimicking me.

That moment was a reminder of just how much my actions set an example for him. I cheered him on as he tries to do his own pull-ups, and I felt a wave of joy wash over me.

“My turn, Atlas. Can you cheer on your Dad?” I asked him.

“Go Dah guh” came out of his mouth, to my complete surprise. Go, Dad, Go…

I felt a rush like I had never felt before. I felt true strength surging through my veins as I gripped the bar and set a new weekly record for myself on the bar…

Today I met the (IMO) greatest bodybuilder of all time, and discovered a new hero that I hadn’t yet met before; the Badass Dad inside of me.

Tomorrow, I present Atlas with his Cuddle Bear.



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