Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Crossing The Finish Line -- My Final Writing.

This day has been coming for quite some time. Today will be my final writing in this blog. Over the course of the past five years I've written nearly 700 posts totaling about 400,000 words. Along the way, I've received compliments and criticisms regarding topics I've written about. I've been honest, to the point, and as accurate as possible while writing in this blog. On many occasions, I put the feelings of my heart into what has been written. For that, I have no regrets and no apologies.

I first started placing information onto the Internet back in 2005. Now, 15 years later, I am crossing the finish line of doing that. I will no longer have social media accounts and this blog will not receive any new content -- although it will remain online until the Blogger.com platform is shut down, whenever that may be. Over the course of the next year the domain registrations for PaulStaso.com and theUSArunner.com will expire and the website content located at those domains will no longer be available. Simply stated, I don't need to be online in these ways any longer. The accounts I've maintained for the past 15 years served a purpose, but are no longer needed.

Over the years, I've ended each blog post with the words "Keep reaching for life's mileposts." The mileposts in life are important to reach for. While reaching, we find that we encounter milestsones -- those times on life's road when we arrive at a significant moment. I've always believed that having goals and ambitions helps us to experience the fullness of life. I've moved through nearly 56 years of life with that perspective, and it has served me well. To those who have read my writings, I thank you. To those who were encouraged, inspired, or enlightened... I'm pleased that my efforts have been of value.

Life's road is filled with twists and turns, mountains and valleys, and sometimes wrong turns and roadblocks. None of us are perfect at navigating the course. All we can do is to set our eyes on the horizon and keep reaching for life's mileposts the best that we can. I will continue to do that, and I pray that God blesses your road as you follow the path of life in front of you.

Paul J. Staso

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020: Masks, Toilet Paper Hoarding, Unemployment, Death, Sadness

I won't ever again be able to hear the word "pandemic" without recalling the year 2020. It has been a challenging year for people around the world. From a deadly pandemic to a global movement for racial justice, the year 2020 has certainly experienced its fair share of world-shifting events. Deadly wildfires erupted from California to Washington state, burning millions of acres and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. The U.S. President faced an impeachment trial in January, around the same time that the World Health Organization announced that the deadly Coronavirus had emerged in Wuhan, China. COVID-19 triggered a global recession as numerous countries went into lockdown. In March 2020, the Dow Jones industrial average suffered its worst single-day point drop ever.

The police-involved killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor in 2020 sparked waves of demonstrations and riots around the world to demand an end to police brutality and racial injustice. More protests erupted in August when 29-year-old Jacob Blake was shot by a Wisconsin police officer. Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States, defeating President Trump, in one of the most contentious elections in history. Biden selected Kamala Harris as his running mate and she became the first black woman and the first Asian woman on a major party’s presidential ticket. In late 2020, the COVID-19 vaccine started to be delivered. As 2020 progressed, we lost some well-known people -- such as Alex Trebek; Eddie Van Halen; Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Chadwick Boseman; Kirk Douglas; Kenny Rogers; Little Richard; Jerry Stiller; Kelly Preston; Sean Connery; and, Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.

As we close out this year, I am focusing more on the blessings of 2020 than the struggles. Amidst a pandemic that had many lose their jobs and businesses, I was fortunate to work every day in my job. In fact, I never had to miss even one day due to the Coronavirus. My wife and I completed many home projects and enjoyed time with our children. Our home has been a constant place for peace, safety and love as the world has struggled through these COVID-19 days. I believe that each of us are ending 2020 stronger than when we began it, and more appreciative of the little things in life that can be so easily overlooked. For many, 2020 has been a year that has brought them to their knees. For me, it has brought me to my knees in prayer and thanksgiving for all that I've been blessed with. May 2021 bring everyone more stability, more happiness, more love, more hope, more gratitude, and more peace.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,


Monday, December 28, 2020

A Fading Tradition -- Asking a Woman's Father for Her Hand in Marriage


One tradition that has been slowly fading away from Western society is asking a woman’s father for her hand in marriage. There are, however, some who believe it's respectful to ask a future bride’s father for his blessing as a couple starts down the path towards matrimony. Asking is a sign of a true gentleman and lets the father know that the intentions are sincere. It’s an important tradition, a rite of passage, and a bonding experience between the future father-in-law and the son-in-law to be. Also, many women consider it to be a sweet gesture.

Recently, I received a phone call from a fine gentleman in Minnesota seeking my approval and blessing to propose to my eldest daughter. It's a phone call that most fathers (at least those who appreciate tradition) look forward to. He certainly didn't have to call me and ask, but he chose to and I truly appreciate it. I did indeed give my approval and blessing, and my daughter is now engaged. I am so happy for the two of them and I wish them endless love, true happiness and abundant success on life's path together.

A survey conducted by TheKnot.com reveals that 77 percent of men ask for permission from their partner's father or parents before they propose. Even so, some people argue that asking a father for permission is sexist and recalls a time when women were treated like property. One online feminist blogger wrote that men who ask for permission and/or a blessing from a father are "mindlessly following a tradition" and that women allow it because "we don't want to upset our dusty fusty fathers." It's so sad to see such an attitude.

I know that we live in a time when women are proposing more (about 5 percent of proposals in the U.S. are by women); when some traditions connected with engagements and weddings are fading; and, when the numbers of marriages are declining. Even so, it's wonderful that there are still men out there who will respectfully approach a father about marrying his daughter. As a father for 27 years, I am very appreciative of that moment I experienced a few weeks ago.

I believe that there are more women than not who want a man to open their car door, to have the man they love contact their father before proposing, and who do appreciate traditions that allow a man to truly be a gentleman. I can tell you this... at the age of 56, I'm seeing these things less and less in our world.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A Family Christmas Tradition Continues...

Tomorrow evening is one of my favorite times of the year. As a family, we choose a night before Christmas arrives when we put sleeping bags in the living room and watch Christmas shows on TV, enjoying goodies and just being together. Then, we sleep out by our Christmas tree. My wife and I know that these precious years with children go way too fast and the two remaining at home are closing in on the ages of 13 and 16. Before we know it, this particular tradition will be one of memory.

A U.S. survey conducted last year shows that 90 percent of parents hope that their children will carry on the holiday traditions that they grew up with. At a time when we're wrapping up a year that has been challenging in many ways due to the global pandemic, it's important to hold on to traditions of the season.

Our family will be spending Christmas and New Years at home in Indiana, enjoying time together and counting our blessings. May your Christmas be one filled with tradition, joy and contentment.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

My Christmas Shopping is Complete! Wishing All a Blessed Christmas!

According to a Lending Tree survey, 25 percent of Americans completed their Christmas shopping before Halloween. I, however, just finished my Christmas shopping today. Those of you who usually follow this blog have seen that I've posted only eight writings in the past month. Between decorating and shopping for Christmas, working 40 hours per week at my job, and preparing Sunday school lessons in my spare time... I just haven't had much time for tossing writings onto this blog. That's typically how it is this time of year.

So, my shopping is done and I have about 75 percent of my wrapping accomplished. I guess that's not too bad for there still being two weeks before Christmas. It was recently reported that the average American consumer is expected to spend about $850 on Christmas gifts. As we've seen in the news, this year has seen record online sales -- primarily due to limitations on in-store shopping due to the Coronavirus. Many retailers had "Black Friday" deals throughout much of November!

This year, our home has the most Christmas trees we've ever put up -- a total of three full-size trees, completely decorated. There's one in the living room, one in the formal dining room, and one in our sunroom (as seen in the photos). However, businesswoman Martha Stewart certainly has us beat! She puts up 40 in her Bedford, New York home! She has reported that she puts up at least five trees in each room. So, our three trees are nothing compared to the number in Martha's house!

Our family is truly looking forward to the next few weeks as we celebrate Christmas and then bring in the new year. I pray that each of you reading this has a very blessed time in the coming weeks!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Ready To Light Up The Season -- And To Give Thanks!

Yes... I'm guilty of putting up our Christmas lights a bit early this year! However, I'm not the only one. It has been reported on the network news stations that many Americans are getting into the holiday spirit earlier this year... likely due to the global pandemic and a desire to focus on something positive and joyful.

Although our home has many Christmas decorations in place, we're certainly not overlooking Thanksgiving! It's a holiday that I truly love. Sadly, in recent years it seems that Thanksgiving has become simply a few-hour pause to fill stomachs before dashing off to Black Friday shopping deals -- which typically begin before Friday! This year, many retailers seem to be offering Black Friday deals that last all month!

It's true that 2020 has been a difficult year for most people worldwide. It has been a time of physical, emotional and financial struggle for countless people. Mentally and spiritually, many people are weary. School and church closures, restaurant and retail closures, and more have brought many people to their knees... praying for the pandemic to end and for life to return to a more normal state. Yet, as we head into the holiday season we can all keep in mind the blessings we do have. Family and friends are certainly blessings to be counted. As a Christian, I know that God has not abandoned us and is fully in control.

Eric Liddell -- the British Olympic gold medalist runner and Christian missionary -- once said, "Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins. Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God comes in and takes calamity and uses it victoriously, working out his wonderful plan of love." I believe that, even in these days of a global pandemic.

As you prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, keep in mind that God loves you and is no further away than a prayer in your heart. That's a daily gift, and something to truly give thanks for.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Americans Have Been Heard! Charlie Brown is Returning to TV!

Americans have been heard! No, I'm not talking about the presidential election. I'm talking about A Charlie Brown Christmas. Fans of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Woodstock, and the entire Peanuts gang circulated an online petition that went viral, complaining about the holiday specials being moved off network television. As a result, the animated favorites are returning to TV!

Apple TV+, which acquired the rights to the specials in 2020, will let PBS and PBS KIDS air the specials. The 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas will air December 13 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time. After long runs on CBS and ABC, the Charlie Brown holiday specials moved off network TV after Apple TV+ obtained the rights. Although Apple promised free streaming opportunities, many fans protested and asked that the animated specials have some sort of presence in their traditional place, broadcast TV.

I think Charles Schulz would be pleased!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,


Monday, November 23, 2020

This Thanksgiving, Count Your Blessings... Not Your Struggles.

There is so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season! While others may be feeling that 2020 has been a year that should be forgotten as soon as possible due to the global pandemic, civil unrest, natural disasters, and a U.S. presidential election that has been unlike any other in history... I am counting my blessings and am entering this holiday season with an abundance of thankfulness for time with family over the past year and precious memories created.

Kelley and I are celebrating our sixth Thanksgiving together and although all of our eight children cannot be with us, they are truly no farther away than the love in our hearts, the memories we hold, and the prayers that we lift up for them regularly. Our eight children now range in age from 12 to 27 -- with most being adults. They all reside in four different states and will be spending Turkey Day rather spread out. My parents and siblings reside in Alaska while Kelley's family is in Kansas. Both of us feel the miles between us and the family members we won't be able to see, but the love that we hold for them is greater than any distance that we are apart.

Rather than entering Thanksgiving feeling beat up and weary from a year filled with struggles and uncertainty, I challenge you to consciously choose to dwell on the blessings of the year and to be thankful for what you do have. Remember, don't just count your blessings. Be the blessing other people count on.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,


Friday, November 20, 2020

The "Expert" Said That My Knees And Hips Would Be Shot By Now

In March 2010 -- just before I started my 500-mile solo run across Germany -- I had the honor of being the keynote speaker at the European AHPERD conference, AHPERD being the Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. I gave a message to P.E. teachers who had gathered from all over Europe. Several of the attending educators had their students participating in my Germany adventure by tracking my progress online and virtually logging miles at their schools in teams to try and keep pace with the daily mileage I logged. After giving what I though was an encouraging message, I took my seat as another speaker walked up to the podium. The woman was a health/nutrition "expert" and it didn't take her long to start criticizing my efforts of promoting youth health and fitness through the ultra-endurance runs I had been doing for years across states and countries.

In summary, she stated that my example to young people was not necessarily a good one due to the extreme demands I was placing on my body. She even had the audacity to tell the audience, "Mark my words, when Mr. Staso is in his 50's his knees and hips will be shot." Well, I'm now 55 and you can mark MY words -- MY KNEES AND HIPS ARE JUST FINE! Yes, I've logged the equivalent of about 50,000 miles during my running career (about two laps of planet earth), and accomplished some running feats that had not been done before. Yes, I pushed a jogging stroller of gear that weighed half of my body weight most of the time as I ran solo here, there and everywhere. Yes, I ran more than a marathon every day during my endeavors across America, Alaska, Germany, and the Mojave Desert. And yes, I am still in one piece and have no lingering negative effects of my running efforts -- not to my knees, hips, ankles, or other joints. The "expert" who told that audience that I would, by now, essentially be crippled was very wrong.

Earlier this week, I had my annual physical exam. Every November I see my primary care physician and have a complete exam performed. Each year I hear the doctor say the same thing... "I wish that all men your age would walk into my office in the kind of shape you're in." Most men over the age of 50 are on at least one prescription medication, and many are on two or more. I don't require any prescription meds and the only thing I take daily is a multivitamin designed for men over the age of 50. My weight and body mass index is right where it should be, my blood pressure is 110/78, and I don't drink alcohol, smoke, vape, or do any drugs. My blood labs show that everything is great. Overall, my health is extremely good and I feel fantastic.

Sometimes I wonder how many teachers who attended that 2010 conference honestly believed what that "expert" had to say about me. Perhaps one day some of those attending teachers will stumble upon this writing to see that the words she spoke... that she wanted marked on everyone's minds... were absolutely false and simply showed her ignorance regarding experienced ultra-endurance athletes and their ability to not only endure, but to endure wisely without causing detrimental and permanent damage to themselves.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,


Monday, November 16, 2020

The Holidays: Present Shopping, Family Gatherings... and Burglaries!

Home burglaries are on the rise and December is the month with the highest burglary rates. Burglars know that people are Christmas shopping and leaving valuable gifts in their home in preparation for Christmas. Packages are on doorsteps and presents are decoratively arranged under trees near windows for all to see. It's a burglar's favorite time of year! Statistically speaking, a break-in at your neighbor's house increases the likelihood that your home might be broken into, because burglars often strike repeatedly in areas they're already familiar with.

Some people make it way too easy for burglars! Surveys show that as much as 20 percent of homeowners keep a spare key under a doormat or flowerpot. FBI data shows that burglaries take place every 25 seconds in the United States and increases 20 percent in the last weeks of December. The average loss from a burglary is $2,799 and a burglary victimization survey revealed that the most common time for burglaries is between noon and 4 p.m.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the home security system that my wife and I have in place for our home. We have outside cameras around our house with siren capability that detect motion and automatically record -- day or night. The system also includes cell phone monitoring for remote alerts and video coverage, and we have security decals on all sides of our home. We also have security alarms on our windows and exterior doors, as well as motion lights. We live in a very nice neighborhood outside of the city limits, so crime in our residential area is not an issue. However, I believe our system would deter any would-be thief who may wander onto our property.

Some may think that our security system is too much. However, I believe there is nothing more important than protecting my family and our home. Of those who have been the victim of a break in, 49 percent reported that afterward they changed their locks, 41 percent added a home alarm system, and 38 percent installed security cameras.

If your home isn't secure aside from a lock on the doors and window latches in the closed position, then I would suggest that you consider adding some home security items to your Christmas wish list. For many people, these are desperate days. The Coronavirus pandemic has been raging for eight months and we've seen on the news that people will resort to looting and theft in these challenging economic times.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,


Thursday, November 12, 2020

How Do You Fix a Broken Pumpkin? With a Pumpkin Patch! (Ha-ha-ha)

It has been 17 days since my last blog post, and those of you who follow this blog with any level of consistency know that I typically post several writings each week. However, we're in the autumn season -- my favorite time of year! When I haven't been at the office, I've been outside soaking in the beautiful colors, doing some yard work, and preparing weekly junior high Sunday school lessons for teens at our church. I've been enjoying time with my family and just relaxing as the days of winter get ever closer.

Numerous surveys reveal that autumn is the season most people say is their favorite. There are many reasons -- the cooler temperatures, the beautiful colors on the trees, and enjoying evenings of S'mores next to a fire. This past week here in Indiana has seen the temperatures unseasonably warm at around 70 degrees, but today it's only reaching 50. While other parts of the country are seeing snow, we're still enjoying autumn in my neck of the woods!

Last weekend I stored the patio furniture in the shed and got our home ready for the upcoming winter. I'll run the mower over the lawn one last time to mulch up the few remaining leaves that have fallen, and then my outside chores will be done until it's time to shovel. You'll likely see me writing less in this blog over the next couple of months as I prefer to spend as much time as possible enjoying the holidays with my family. I pray that you enjoy the lead up to the holidays and that you appreciate the little things in life.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,


Monday, October 26, 2020

As Mr. Rogers Used to Sing: "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!"

My wife and I live in a beautiful neighborhood. This past weekend, we enjoyed a stroll along its peaceful streets, taking in the gorgeous colors of autumn. While some parts of the country are already seeing snow, we are still very much in the fall season in our neck of the woods -- appreciating temperatures in the 50's and even 60, which is very nice for the last week of October.

I've lived in a lot of neighborhoods in my lifetime, but none as lovely as the one that I live in now -- as the accompanying photo shows. My wife and I are truly blessed to have been able to find the perfect home in such a picturesque neighborhood.

There are many things that I appreciate about our neighborhood. It's very quiet with no thru traffic. People maintain their homes and yards very well. There is no soliciting, theft or police activity (and we have police officers who reside in our neighborhood). There are many different types of mature trees -- such as pine, maple and birch. There's no homeowners association, the roads are good, people are friendly, and it's nice to see families out walking or biking together. It's far enough out of town that we're somewhat in the country, but it only takes a few minutes to get to town. There are no registered sex offenders in our neighborhood (something that is always good to research!). We have a variety of birds that enjoy visiting the feeder in our backyard, and at night we can lay down to sleep with no sounds of traffic. There are plenty of deer in the area, but they generally do not wander into the neighborhood. Overall, our neighborhood is peaceful, pleasant, and perfect for us.

A Pew Research Center survey reveals that 57 percent of Americans say they know only some of their neighbors, while only 26 percent say that they know most of their neighbors. I've lived in my current neighborhood for 2 1/2 years and have gotten to know my most immediate neighbors. It's nice to see people in the neighborhood drive by while I'm working in the yard and give a wave. It's just wonderful living in a friendly, clean, safe and attractive neighborhood where homes are on the more expensive side and hold their value. My wife and I agree, we are now living in our last home.

When I was a little boy in the late 1960's and early 1970's, I used to watch Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood on TV and he always began each show with the song "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." Now, at age 55, I hear that song echoing in the back of my mind as I stroll through my own neighborhood. What a beautiful day it is!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,


Monday, October 19, 2020

From the Atlantic Shore to the Cornfields of Indiana: A 14-year Journey

Fourteen years ago today, I ran into the Atlantic Ocean to complete my 3,260-mile solo run across the United States. So much has happened in my life in the 5,110 days since then. Those of you who have followed this blog over the years know what I mean. These days I'm surrounded by cornfields in Indiana, and farmers are currently in the process of harvest. Rather than take space in today's writing to recall moments of that 2006 coast-to-coast run, I'd rather fill a few paragraphs with words about how happy, content and fulfilling my life is today.

Kelley and I have been married for two years and the past 5+ years of being in each other's lives have been an indescribable joy. We share a beautiful home, eight wonderful children, excellent health, stable jobs, and a life that is truly filled with love, laughter and happily ever after. I am honestly the happiest and most content I have ever been in my entire life.

This year, I came into full communion with the Catholic Church and as a result have been blessed beyond measure. My family attends Mass each week and I've been teaching the junior high faith formation classes at our church. God has been so good to me and my family. I thank Him each day for bringing the paths of Kelley and I together in 2015 and for blessing our lives with all that both of us had truly desired in our hearts.

Although this has been a pandemic year, Kelley and I have aimed to make cherished family memories in every way we possibly could. Along the way, we worked side-by-side on numerous home projects while enjoying outings with two daughters that live with us. One is in the seventh grade and the other in 10th grade. All of our other children are adults and although we don't see several of them as much as we would like, we aim to keep in touch and they are always in our hearts and prayers. I've been blessed to be a dad for over 27 years, and a stepdad for the past two years. Kelley and I have been given the gift of children who are a joy, and we love having the 'parent' title.

The photo that is accompanying my writing today was taken last week on our backyard patio. The autumn leaves are stunning at the moment and the vibrant colors remind us that the holidays are just around the corner. We're looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas -- building even more special memories.

Yes, so much can happen in 14 years, and 14 years from now I'll be nearly 70. Between now and then, Kelley and I will continue to grow in our love and in our faith... and inevitably begin growing in new roles as grandparents and retirees. Life is an amazing journey and I'm so glad that I get to step through the rest of this journey with Kelley by my side.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,


Monday, October 12, 2020

I Love The Colors That Are Around And In My Life!

Autumn is my favorite time of year! There's just something about the crispness of the air, the colorful trees, and the overall beauty that comes with this season. We're not even halfway through October and our family has already enjoyed many activities of the season. Orchard visits, horseback riding, pumpkin picking, marshmallow roasting, and more have made this an autumn to remember... and there's still plenty of autumn to go!

This past summer Kelley and I celebrated 5 years of being in each other's lives... and 2020 marks our second wedding anniversary. I am so blessed to be married to my best friend, the most beautiful woman in the world, and my partner for life. We've created countless memories over the past 5+ years and I am incredibly thankful.

In so many ways, Kelley has brought out the colors of my life -- similar to the lovely trees of Indiana that surround us. You see, the gorgeous red, orange, and yellow pigments in fall foliage are actually there all year, just under the surface. Sunlight helps fuel plant cells containing a chemical called chlorophyll, which gives leaves its vivid green color while working to turn light into energy. When sunlight diminishes in fall, chlorophyll breaks down, letting the plant’s hidden red, yellow, and orange hues to shine through. Now, I'm not saying that Kelley isn't a ray of sunshine in my life! She most definitely is. I'm saying that she has also brought to the surface of my life colors that I never knew were there. With Kelley in my life, I see colors I truly had never seen before.

Yes, autumn is my favorite time of year... and I love the colors that are around and in my life.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,