Monday, April 5, 2021

You Can Receive The Ultimate Vaccine -- A Shot To The Heart!

In early March, the state of Indiana lowered the qualifying age for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine to 50. Since yesterday was my 56th birthday (on Easter!), I definitely qualified.
I immediately registered and on March 18, 2021 I received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine. I'll be getting my second, and final, Moderna shot on April 19. At the time that I received the first shot, only 21 percent of the U.S. population had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Experts say that in order to achieve a herd immunity against COVID-19, at least 70 percent to 80 percent of a population must be vaccinated.

It has been interesting to read the myriad of news reports regarding public opinion swirling around the Coronavirus vaccine. There are those who are completely against it, others who are tentative, and some that are scrambling to vaccination sites without hesitation. I'm sure my receiving the vaccine will be viewed by some as unwise while others will agree with my decision. I wonder if a similar public debate occurred back in 1942 when the influenza vaccine was introduced.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could have a vaccine to treat bad attitudes; poor judgments; racial discrimination; ageism; abuse; neglect; violence; and so many other ailments of society? Imagine... just walk into a clinic and pick out the vaccine you want in an effort to make the world a better place for yourself and others. I know that's not realistic and some who are reading this may choose to abandon this writing before reaching the end. I'm asking you to hold on for a little while longer, particularly if you're a Millennial (between the ages of 25 and 40).

Getting back to this thought of receiving a vaccination to treat bad attitudes, poor judgments, and more, I can tell you that such a vaccine does indeed exist. You don't have to get it by receiving a needle in your arm or swallowing a pill. You simply have to put your eyes on it, read it, and accept it into your heart. I guess that you can say it's a shot to the heart. I'm talking about reading God's Word -- the Bible. Many people have never put their faith in God and His Word, and they've avoided His "spiritual vaccination" to their personal detriment. I recently saw a video which featured a 20-something female saying that the Bible is only for "old white people." What a sad -- and lost -- statement for a young person to make!

The American Bible Society shared some unsettling trends in its annual "State of the Bible" survey. Bible skepticism is on the rise compared to previous years. Many are "too busy" to read the Bible despite its unprecedented availability -- even in app form where it can be read to you, or you can set a reminder to read through a reading plan. Sadly, the Bible generally sits on a shelf until a crisis. Most readers report that they are drawn to search it out for answers to life's questions, or when they are in need of comfort or answers for tough situations they may be facing. The survey also shows that not only are Millennials more likely to be skeptical toward Scripture, they are also less likely to read the Bible, less likely to own a Bible, and less likely to believe the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life. Also, only 30 percent of Millennials believe that the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God. Given the increase in Millennials who don't believe the Bible is sacred, as well as the decrease in Bible awareness among Millennials, Bible skepticism will likely continue to rise.

AARP (American Association of Retired People) asked a group of Millennials at what age a person is "old." Those responding generally considered 50 and over as "old." Since I just celebrated my 56th birthday, I would definitely be considered old by most of today's Millennials -- and, as mentioned, there are some Millennials who believe that the Bible is only for "old white people." It's sad to see that the Millennial generation has such a narrow focus on age and on the Bible. Before they know it, they'll be in that 50+ age demographic and perhaps once they have several difficult adult life experiences behind them they'll learn two things: that you're only old if you sit down and say you're old, and that the Bible is truly God's Word and offers far more than what their generation believes.

By the way, if you're a Millennial and have read this far you should know about Bjorn Suneson, a 73-year-old Swedish man who has run solo across the United States 7 times -- averaging about 30 miles per day pushing a support stroller of gear, food and water. Why does he do it? Because he likes learning about America, meeting Americans, and writing about the American culture for his global blog readers to enjoy. His first run across the U.S.A. occurred when he was 58 years old! Between the ages of 58 and 71 he ran 7 times across America for a distance of over 22,000 miles! Trust me, Millennials... age is just a number! Oh, and by the way, Bjorn is aiming to run across America again this year -- which would be his 8th crossing of the continent.

From Him, Through Him, For Him (Romans 11:36),

Monday, March 1, 2021

I (like many) Have Been Viewed as a "Hero" and a "Zero." That's Life.

A "Hero" is defined as a person who is admired for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. In October 2006 -- after I had completed my solo run across the United States simply to keep a promise to a group of elementary students -- I had some people tell me that I was a hero. In fact, the world-renowned Mayo Clinic bestowed upon me the "Health Hero Award" for my 15-state coast-to-coast accomplishment. Honestly, I've never considered myself a "hero" for anything that I've done in my life. I've simply aimed to do the best that I can in each situation that I've been presented with. There are times when I've experienced great success, and times when I've fallen into significant failure. In the eyes of some, I'm sure there have been moments when they've viewed me as a hero, and times when they've viewed me as a zero. Is that difficult for me? Not really. That's simply called life.

My 56th birthday is coming up soon and as I look back on the past 20,000+ days on this earth I can recall times when I've viewed the actions and choices of others as being heroic... a fireman who saved a small child from a burning building; a kind soul who changed the life of a homeless person; and, a saint who was put to death as a result of staying true to his faith. There are heroes all around us -- people to admire for their character qualities and achievements. However, it is our Heavenly Father who is the Ultimate Hero! God gave us His son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross for our sins -- saving mankind and creating a way for us to be with God forever. Unlike earthly heroes, God will never let us down. There are many places in Scripture where God says that He will never leave us or forsake us, and that He will be with us wherever we go. That cannot be said of earthly heroes, because they -- like us -- are sinful mortals.

I remember very well the first time a "hero" let me down. It was in 1979 when I was fourteen years of age. My eldest brother was ten years older than I and had been serving in the military for several years. When he would travel back to our home state to visit, I was always impressed with his appearance. He was much taller than I, looked distinguished in his military uniform, and had a smile that could brighten a room. He was a Christian, played guitar, and enjoyed running -- all things that would become a part of my own life. I truly looked up to him and in many ways he was my hero when I was in junior high. However, he made a choice that took away his 'hero' status in my life. For selfish reasons that only he truly understands, he chose to cut all ties with his family and move away with his new bride -- never to be seen or heard from again. Yes, it has been 42 years since my eldest brother disappeared from my life. I don't know if he's dead or alive... but after 42 years I live as though he died decades ago.

I went through stages -- disbelief; confusion; anger; sadness; letting go; and, eventually acceptance. It was truly a grieving process. The last time I saw him was when I was competing in an eight grade track meet. I had won all of my races and he came up to me on the infield of the track, congratulated me, and told me that I was a very good runner and that I should continue to develop my running abilities. I remember that he was rather serious as he told me that. Then, he said he would see me later. He turned and walked away across the infield. I would never see him again. It was that day when my brother went from being a hero in my life to being a zero in my life -- completely absent without even a goodbye. I've written before in this blog about other people in my life who have made similar choices. All that I can say in my heart is Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.

As I begin to enter the autumn season of life, I no longer have earthly heroes. Many times, "hero" status is fleeting and often leads to disappointment for those who look upon others as heroes. These days, I set my eyes and heart heavenward to Jesus Christ -- a hero to more than two billion people worldwide. The word "hero" comes from the Latin, heros, meaning, "defender, protector" and "to save, deliver, preserve, protect." Closely related to the word "hero" is "Savior" -- which comes from the Latin, salvatorem, meaning "one who delivers or rescues from peril" or "heals." Jesus is infinitely higher above all other heroes, and He is the only Hero and Savior that I need.

From Him, Through Him, For Him (Romans 11:36),

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

"Back To My Life" -- My Final Words After Running Across America

On October 20, 2006 I completed my 3,260-mile, 108-day, 15-state solo run across the United States. I had averaged 30 miles per day from the Oregon coast to the Delaware shore, being disconnected from the routine happenings in my life as a 41-year-old father of four children. After it was all over, I was contacted by a reporter for one last interview. In the article he described me as a "lithe, sinewy man" and shared a few details about my journey. At the end of the interview, he asked me what I would be doing next. I paused a moment, reflecting on the endeavor I had just completed. Then, I said four words which would become the final words of his article: "Back to my life."

During that June to October adventure, people had seen me as simply an ultra-endurance runner reaching for the horizon day after day in hopes of making it to the Atlantic Ocean. I was just an odd spectacle seen along the road by many people as they headed to work, dashed to the grocery store, or were on their way home from one of their kid's activities. Some believed I was homeless, a vagabond, or out of sorts... mentally. Many passed me by without a glance, some were annoyed at my presence along the road's edge, and a few attempted to run me into the ditch. Not many people understood what all of my strides were about. Often, I was portrayed as a guy who was paying his dues for losing a bet. If you're not sure what that means, you'll want to read some of these previous posts: Keeping A Promise -- What Does That Look Like In Action?Make Good on a Promise? Preposterous!; and, Is Keeping a Promise an Unrealistic Goal?.

Regardless of public perception of me from June until October 2006, after I ran into the Atlantic Ocean to complete that coast-to-coast challenge I had to get back to my life. Most people who read the four closing words of that article had no idea what "back to my life" really meant for Paul Staso. I think that some people just thought I was a guy constantly in motion -- running here, there and everywhere for no apparent reason. In fact, at the time I was operating my own business and was the father of four children between the ages of 6 and 13. My marriage of 19 years had been struggling in many ways and I was attempting to cope with that while still trying to be the best father that I could to my children. Although not planned at the outset, my run across America ended up being rather therapeutic for me. I was on the road for nearly four months alone with plenty of time to think and process the events and choices of my life. I was also well aware of what the words "Back to my life" meant and what was awaiting me.

Upon my return, I quickly realized that going back to my life would not be quite the same 'life' as the one I departed from when I took those initial steps away from Cannon Beach, Oregon on June 23, 2006. There were some ways in which life had indeed changed, and not necessarily for the better. Within five years of that run across America my marriage was ending and my business was crumbling. Most of my children were teenagers and busy with their friends and activities. I diligently aimed to keep hidden the emotional struggles that I was going through -- struggles that had been mounting for decades. I tried to focus on being a fun Dad... a fair Dad... a Dad that was decent, supportive, giving, and who would draw a parental line in the sand when one of my children tried to push the boundaries of what was acceptable -- as most teenagers do. Unfortunately, even the most loving intentions can go unnoticed and unappreciated.

I look back on the words "back to my life" and the season of life that I was in 15 years ago and can honestly say that my life is completely new. I've written in this blog about that. I'm blessed to be in my third year of marriage to a wonderful, loving, faith-filled woman; I now reside in the state of Indiana; and, I'm fortunate to not only be a father but also a step-father. I no longer operate my own business, but am in my seventh year working for a respected law firm. It has been 10 years since my last adventure run (across the Mojave Desert) and in May 2017 I retired from ultra-endurance running. I'm no longer Baptist, but Catholic; I teach junior high Sunday School; and, I have my eyes set on e-publishing a devotional for Catholic athletes -- as well as other e-books about my adventure runs, to be made available through Amazon and other e-book outlets. Life is not only good... it's great!

Never again will I say the words "back to my life," because I never intend on stepping outside of my usual life routine again as I did so many years ago when I was reaching for mileposts along lonely roads. God has lead me right to where He wants me to be, and I'm grateful for that.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,

"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future."

-- Jeremiah 29:11

From Him, Through Him, For Him (Romans 11:36),

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Despite Our Wayward Ways, God's Love is Steadfast -- Always.

It wasn't until the year 2020 that I became a Catholic. For 43 years prior to that, I was a Baptist. I was baptized in 1977 at the age of 12 at a Baptist church in Alaska. On June 28, 2020 I was blessed through the Rite of Christian Initiation to come into Full Communion with The Roman Catholic Church. Significant preparation and study were a part of that spiritual journey. My lovely wife, Kelley, has been a Catholic since the cradle and I have attended the Catholic church with her for many years. We attend Mass weekly and I'm blessed to be leading junior high faith formation (Sunday school).

For the past five years, I've written about a variety of topics in this blog. Most of those writings have not had anything to do with my faith. That is now going to change. If I'm going to post writings to this blog, those writings are going to be connected to my Catholic faith. I've spent a lot of time in prayer over the past year and have realized that I seem to give more credit to myself for the successes in my life than to the One from whom those successes actually flow. God is the One who has moved me from a life raft bobbing up and down in wayward seas to a steady ship that is guided by His wind and will. It is to Him that I give all gratitude, glory, honor and praise.

For those who have frequented my writings since I first began to post online in 2005, you will now see a change in tone... a change in focus. My writings will not be as frequent, but will be connected to my Catholic faith. If you've felt that your life has been like a cork bobbing up and down on uncontrollable seas, this blog may help -- in some small way -- to set your sights on the horizon and on what God can do when you give your life to Him. Others may criticize or judge you, but keep in mind that it is not to others that you must ultimately answer when you cross life's finish line.

Through God's plan for my athletic life, I've been blessed to run solo across the United States, Germany, Alaska, Montana, and the Mojave Desert. However, as Psalm 147:10-11 tells us: "He takes... no pleasure in the runner’s stride. Rather the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, those who put their hope in His mercy." God doesn't take pleasure in what I can accomplish with my legs. He wants me to fear him -- which means to have reverence for Him -- and to put my hope in Him. That's what God truly wants from me, and from all of us. Through my athletic career, the miles I've conquered add up to be nearly two laps of planet earth -- about 50,000 miles. Sadly, my past track record shows that I've given myself far more credit for those miles than I've given to God. As a Christian, that was wrong.

For countless years I actually lived the words of Romans 5:3 ("suffering produces endurance"). Then, my life seemed to be focused on the initial words of Romans 5:4 ("endurance produces character"). These days, the tide has turned and God has blessed my life with calm seas, easier sailing, and blessings that I never imagined on those days long ago when I wondered what was beyond the horizon for me. Now, my life is more focused on the second part of Romans 5:4 -- "character produces hope." God is indeed good... all the time.

From Him, Through Him, For Him (Romans 11:36),

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 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,