Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Life WAS a Highway... and Now it is a Rest Area!

This year has been the most amazing of my life. My youngest child became an adult; I watched my four adult children blaze paths in their life; I purchased a lovely new home; I married the most beautiful and loving woman in the world; I became a Step Dad to wonderful children; and... finally... entered a time in life where rest, peace and contentment are a regular part of my days. For me, 2018 will always be looked upon as the year when I was blessed beyond my greatest prayers!

Those of you who followed my adventure runs across states and countries between 2006 and 2011 know that the song "Life is a Highway" (written by Tom Cochrane, from his 1991 album Mad Mad World and later performed by Rascal Flatts) is one that I often used in my music slideshows about my adventures. Part of the lyrics are:

Life's like a road that you travel on,
When there's one day here and the next day gone.
Sometimes you bend and sometimes you stand,
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind.
There's a world outside every darkened door,
Where blues won't haunt you anymore.
Where brave are free and lovers soar,
Come ride with me to the distant shore...
There's no load I can't hold,
A road so rough this I know,
I'll be there when the light comes in,
Tell 'em we're survivors.
Life is a highway.

That song resonated with me while I ran endlessly along America's highways and overseas. Back then, life was just one long road and as long as I was out there... away from the darkened door... blues wouldn't haunt me. Regardless of what life threw at me, I knew the road would help me to remember that there was no load I couldn't hold. The road beat me up at times, but at least I was outside the darkened door... a survivor on life's highway. I knew that the road would eventually lead to the distant shore, and I just had to keep reaching for the mileposts to one day get there. Life indeed was a highway back then, but today it is a permanent rest area. I am at peace -- on the shore I longed for -- and am truly content with life.

I'm looking forward to enjoying the holiday season with my family... loving each and every moment. Life is no longer a highway. It is a rest area with no darkened doors, blues or unbearable loads. Yes, the light has come in and I'm a survivor.


Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Friday, October 26, 2018

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words -- Check Out These Images!

At the end of my last blog writing, I included links to online photo albums that contain pictures from my running adventures across states and countries. Surprisingly, my blog statistics jumped as people followed those links -- although the photos have been available through my website at www.paulstaso.com for many years.

When I was doing school assemblies, an often-asked question was, "Who takes all of the pictures of you when you're on the road?" The simple answer is me. I would use a timer on a digital camera and occasionally use a small tripod to hold the camera steady, particularly on windy days. I would give myself about 10 seconds to get into the frame and would just hope that the scene was captured. Some of the photos in my albums were taken by others, such as when I did the Alaska run and my mother photographed me from a distance in order to include the vastness of Alaska's mountains and wilderness. However, I can say that I've taken about 95 percent of my photos.

In case you've missed seeing the photos, you can click on any of the links below to view the albums.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

My "Beast of Burden" (B.O.B.) Stroller is Permanently Stored in the Attic



I recently took apart my BOB Stroller -- which I used on all of my solo adventure runs across the USA, Germany, Alaska, Montana, and the Mojave Desert -- and stored it permanently in my attic. It is in its special storage bag and will sit in the back of my attic in somewhat of a time capsule that perhaps one day my children will uncover. Since I completed my last adventure run in 2011 (becoming the first person to run 500 miles all alone from the south rim of the Grand Canyon to Badwater Basin, Death Valley), the stroller has generally been assembled with all of its gear in tact. As many of you know, in November 2016 -- at the age of 51 -- I retired from running across states and countries to promote health and fitness. Since that announcement, I have had people who have wanted to get their hands on my support stroller, and they have quickly learned that I am not willing to give up BOB.

As I was taking apart the stroller for the last time, I actually had complete peace. I've had such peace since retiring from extreme ultra-endurance running in 2016. As I was packing away the stroller, my wife came into the garage and smiled... knowing that I am satisfied with what I have accomplished in my running career and am truly happy and content with not only the milepost I am currently at, but also with the mileposts that I can see on life's horizon. I work full time in a law firm; am the father of four wonderful adult children; am experiencing for the first time the joy of being a step dad; and, am blessed to be married to the most amazing woman in the world. Life is indeed good and for the first time in my life I have nothing to run from or to run to. I feel that I have finally arrived at where I've wanted to be.

Those of you who have followed my athletic adventures since 2006 are very familiar with my reliance upon the B.O.B. stroller to help support me as I would run between 30 to 50 miles every day across a state or country. To be completely self sufficient required me to devise a way to carry the essential gear, food and water... and B.O.B. was the answer. Through this blog, and through my website at www.paulstaso.com, I have documented how I have accomplished the running endeavors I have across vast land masses, and I wouldn't have been able to do any of it alone without the support stroller I modified with a solar panel, lights, water reservoirs, and more.

I thought I'd share with you some photo albums from my ultra-endurance adventures so that you can see the B.O.B. stroller in action:


Thanks to the BOB company for making my 2005 Ironman Sport Utility Stroller so durable and reliable. B.O.B. and I had quite a run!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso


Monday, October 22, 2018

Living, Loving and Laughing as a Husband, Dad and Step-Dad

I must say, there are incredible joys that come with being Kelley's husband in addition to being a Dad and Step-dad. In fact, there is a genuine and deep peace and contentment that I have with my life... finally. Those of you who have known me for years -- and some for many decades -- know that life for me prior to 2015 hadn't been on a very smooth path. In fact, the rocks and potholes on that road eventually turned into mountains and valleys. However, I have truly reached a place of happiness on a smooth and level path that stretches to the horizon of my future.

I look down at my hands on the keyboard and see the shine of the wedding band that Kelley placed on my hand. One glance immediately brings to my mind and heart every ounce of love, emotion and gratitude I felt when she and I exchanged our vows. That ring is a symbol of our love and commitment, and reflects the eternal promise of the vows we exchanged.

Although six of our eight children are adults, none have yet married. Eventually, Kelley and I will have married children... and one day we'll be grandparents. Believe me, I am in no rush to add the word "grand" to my parent title! However, when that day comes I will embrace it with all of my heart. For now, I am living, loving and laughing as a very content husband, dad and step-dad.

When I spoke at my wedding reception, I shared with those in attendance that sometimes life's path becomes skewed -- taking you in a direction that you didn't anticipate. Although such moments can be quite difficult and/or challenging when they occur, it can ultimately guide you to a new path filled with great and often unexpected blessings. That is precisely what happened in my life. Kelley is a blessing beyond measure and our eight children are gifts from God.

I believe that one of the most difficult things about having adult children is that you often don't see them as much as you would like. My four children currently live in Montana and Minnesota, while I am in Indiana. Sure, in today's technologically-advanced world we have texting, SnapChat, and more to keep in touch. However, those things simply do not compare to actually spending one-on-one time together with your children.

As I was hugging my adult children goodbye following my wedding, I simply didn't want to let go. Yes, I was emotional... a bit of a 'puddle' as I hugged them. However, the tears were an expression of how much they mean to me and how I miss them when we're not together. They have careers to chase down, relationships to build, and bills to pay. They have adult obligations, as I do, and their path in life has taken them in a direction that is not on my street, in my town, or within my state. I understand that and I truly want to see my children become successful in whatever they pursue.

Life is a journey, from start to finish, and we are often in control of the rudder... steering the direction in which we will go. However, there are times when we have absolutely no control and life can send us in an unexpected direction. In such times, it's important to keep your eyes open for the unexpected blessings. Those blessings can appear as suddenly as the beacon of a lighthouse on a new shore, seemingly pulling you to a different place in life. May the light that you're drawn to always give you a peaceful landing and bright future!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Married Life Can Be Good For Your Health!

I recently married the woman of my dreams... Kelley. She and I were together for over three years, and engaged for nearly two years, before we said our vows in front of family and friends. Between us, we are blessed to have eight children -- five daughters and three sons (she is the mother of three daughters and a son, and I am the father of two daughters and two sons). Six of our children are adults, while the two youngest girls are ages 10 and 13. Back in the late 1970's there was a television show titled "Eight is Enough" which  focused on the life of the Bradford family and the upbringing of eight children. For Kelley and I, eight is truly enough -- and I write that with a 53-year-old smile. Parenthood and step-parenthood is such a blessing!

Exchanging vows with Kelley was the most emotionally impacting moment of my life. There are certain moments in life that are forever etched onto your heart, such as the birth of your children, and for me I will never forget the profound love, joy and gratefulness I felt while exchanging wedding vows with Kelley. I have never experienced a more deeper, committed, loving one-on-one relationship with anyone than that which I have with my bride. The vow I made to her... said with my heart and echoed through my voice... is as follows:

I, Paul, take you, Kelley, to be my wedded wife;
to have and to hold from this day forward;
in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow;
in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish;
for as long as we both shall live.

I have never been happier and I look forward to the wonderful memories to be made in our home over the coming decades. Did you know that marriage can actually impact your health? For instance, research from Johns Hopkins University reveals that when a wife begins to exercise more, her husband is 70 percent more likely to increase his activity; and, when a husband starts meeting recommended exercise goals, his wife is 40 percent more likely to join in.

In general, a good marriage enhances a person's health, because having someone you love and want to keep around encourages healthy behavior. It also provides important social support, which could explain why recent studies show that married couples are more likely to survive cancer and less likely to develop dementia or be hospitalized with pneumonia. A good marriage is good medicine! Here are just a few ways that a healthy marriage can inspire healthier living:

Improves you heart health

A nationwide study of patients of all ages found that married people are less likely to develop heart disease than those who are single, divorced or widowed. Spouses had a lower risk of a heart attack or stroke, regardless of their age or gender. Even married people with other risk factors -- such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and obesity -- showed a lower rate of heart disease. The reason, say researchers, is people in happy, committed relationships experience less stress and conflict in their everyday lives.

Increases survival rates for illness or surgery

Although marriage won’t reduce your chances of getting cancer, it could affect your long-term prognosis and survival rate. Patients who are in a committed relationship when their cancer is diagnosed have a better survival rate than patients who are divorced or separated from their partners. In fact, a study found that among people diagnosed with cancer, the disease was more likely to be farther advanced for singles at the time of diagnosis, while married people were more likely to be diagnosed at an earlier stage. Similarly, happily married patients who have coronary bypass surgery are more than three times as likely to live 15 years longer than unmarried patients, according to a University of Rochester study. Researchers speculate that married patients are more likely than single patients to receive treatment, visit their doctor regularly, and eat a healthier diet because of the support and encouragement of their spouse or partner.

Increases emotional resilience

A Cornell University study found that people in committed relationships are more likely to be happier, have higher self-esteem, feel greater life satisfaction, and experience less stress or depression. Researchers say having a dependable partner helps people feel less isolated and better able to manage outside causes of stress.

As a newly married man who is completely happy and content, I can tell you that I agree that a healthy marriage enhances personal health. I am blessed beyond measure and wake up each day knowing, deep in my heart, just how blessed I am. My wife, Kelley, is my cherished gift and I am grateful for each and every day with her. Life is amazing, our marriage is wonderful, and the future is ours!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Friday, October 5, 2018

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission vs. B.O.B. Strollers

I have pushed the same 2006 BOB Ironman Sport Utility Stroller thousands of miles on my solo running adventures across America, Germany, Alaska, the Mojave Desert, and elsewhere. The stroller hauled my gear, food and water (sometimes as much as 100 pounds) and has endured the most punishing of conditions. Today, it sits in my garage. I recently learned that earlier this year the company that makes the BOB jogging stroller had a complaint filed against it by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), after it refused to order a recall over what the government’s product safety regulator considers a "substantial product hazard."

According to the CPSC, the issue is that the front wheel can detach as the stroller is being pushed -- something I have NEVER experienced with my BOB stroller. The commission says that when the wheel detaches, the front fork on the stroller frame can dig into the terrain, stopping the stroller abruptly and potentially causing serious injury to a child and/or an adult pushing the stroller. The CPSC’s complaint says that almost 500,000 BOB strollers were made from December 2011 through September 2015, plus an unknown number were manufactured between 1997 and 2011. The lawsuit does not cover strollers made after September 2015.

The CPSC suit seeks to force Britax, which owns the BOB brand, to recall the strollers. In its press release, the agency didn’t advise consumers to stop using BOB jogging strollers built through September 2015, but the complaint does seek an order to stop the company from distributing affected models, and also requests that Britax alert the public and produce a remedy for what the agency deems a defect in design.

Britax does not believe there is any defect with the BOB strollers it manufactures.

In a press release, the CPSC says that approximately 200 complaints have been filed by consumers since January 2012 and that it has received at least 97 reports of injuries to children and adults. In response, Britax has said that with more than half a million products in the market for 20 years, the number of reported injuries is very low. Britax also said that front wheel detachments are not due to any defect in the product design; they involve an improperly secured quick release mechanism and/or jogging with the swivel wheel unlocked.

Britax states that detailed instructions and videos on securing the quick release and locking the front wheel are available on the BOB gear website and in the User Guide.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

"Don't Work Too Hard!" -- Words That I've Been Pondering

Recently, I was out mowing my property on a very hot Indiana summer day and a pastor I met not long ago happened to be walking by. When I was somewhat close to him he yelled over the noise of the lawnmower, "Don't work too hard!" -- and kept striding along. For the rest of the time that I pushed my mower over the 20,000 square feet of lawn, I kept thinking about his words... "Don't work too hard!" The question that kept going through my mind was, what is considered "too hard" when it comes to work?

The suggestion, "Don't work too hard!" is one that I've heard countless times in my life... although I don't recall an employer ever saying those words to me! I've had friends and family tell me on occasion not to work too hard, and there have been moments -- like that with the pastor -- when someone passing by has said those words. In fact, I'm sure that I've even said those words to some people in my lifetime.

I was mowing my lawn again a couple of days ago and the thought came back into my mind. What does the average person think is "too hard" when it comes to work? Personally, I have a strong work ethic and am not afraid of putting in hard work. In March 2017, I wrote a blog entry titled, "Do You Think You Have A Strong Work Ethic?" I believe a solid work ethic is essential to success. However, the statement/advice/warning of "Don't Work Too Hard!" isn't focused on one's work ethic. It's focused on the intensity, magnitude and/or duration of the work being performed.

Some people may say, "Don't work too hard!" because the work that they see being done is beyond the effort that they would personally do. Or, perhaps they see the sweat, strain and/or fatigue and believe that the person should take a break or pace themselves better at the task being undertaken. Or, perhaps they feel that the person should have more balance in his or her life between work and rest. Or, perhaps they're concerned that the person's level of work may put them into an early grave! There are many reasons as to why someone may say the words, "Don't work too hard!" Personally, when I hear those words I interpret them as a kind suggestion. The pastor that saw me sweating in the heat as I mowed my lawn was expressing a kind thought based on the work he perceived me doing and the conditions I was doing that work in. However, I know that he uses a riding lawnmower and perhaps he can't relate very well with my pushing a lawnmower on a hot day.

While I agree that a person shouldn't work to the point of putting their health/life in jeopardy, I certainly don't subscribe to the line of thought that a person shouldn't work hard at a task. For me, there is a fine line between "hard" and "too hard." Have I ever crossed the line and entered into the "too hard" category? Yes, I have. I recall a 100-degree day on my run across America in 2006 when I was pushing through a 35-mile segment and became somewhat dehydrated and weak. I was all alone and knew that I was running "too hard" -- so, I stopped, hydrated my body, and adjusted my pace thereafter. It's important to know when you're doing something that is "too hard" for you at the moment.

Don't be afraid of hard work. Some of the greatest successes and joys in life are experienced through hard work. Some aspects of my life that have taken considerable effort, and have been hard at times, include: obtaining my university degrees; my career; being a father; running long distances; and, some relationships. It's important to know yourself well enough to understand what level of work is "too hard" so that you don't foolishly risk your well being. Finally, keep in mind that some hard work never goes away. Yep... my lawn needs to be mowed again!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com