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    STOKE — blog

    To War and Back With a Chalk Bag, Skis and a New Mission!

    To War and Back With a Chalk Bag, Skis and a New Mission!

    "A National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, US Army Veteran, and former Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician, Stacy has been leading transformational expeditions in the outdoors since 2010.
     ​It was rock climbing, two years after his exit from the United States Army and a year in Baghdad that helped Stacy move through his own multi-year struggle with suicidal ideation and substance abuse. This put him on a path to connect first more veterans, and then all people, to the outdoors as a means to engage and resolve trauma.
    Through the outdoors he found himself, his passion, and a renewed excitement for life." (Excerpt from Stacy's website Happy Grizzly Adventures).
    We asked Stacy a few questions to get to know what drives him, makes him stoked and what he's up to! here we go...
    What was your military time like?

     Somedays my time in service feels like last week and sometimes it feels like it was someone else’s life that has been grafted on to what I am doing now. The memories include someone who looks like me, but is it me?

     I got commissioned out of the University of Mississippi in 2000, was stationed in Germany as an Intel Officer and deployed to Bosnia in 03/04 as the head of the counter terrorism team at the National Intelligence Center. I got out of the Army, headed off to do humanitarian land mine clearance in Angola and later Abkhazia in the Republic of Georgia before getting recalled out of the Individual Ready Reserve to do a tour in Baghdad 06-07 as a civil affairs officer.

     We were there before and during the surge. I’d guess I was somewhere at about 50% for how rough or violent my tour was. I both really loved and hated my time in the US Army. It is hard to imagine a life without the friends, experiences, and lessons learned-but also damn man, why did some of that shit have to go down the way it did?

     Life lessons from your time on active duty?

     That there’s always a way through any hard time. 99.9% of the time, the way through will require team work and use of resources you don’t have sole access to, as well as people and advice that you may disagree with in other areas of life and war to get the job done.

     You cannot win a war, or build a lasting peace or understanding, without boots on the ground outside of the wire. Face to face communication is always the best. As a force, we spent too much time behind walls from our senior leadership on down to the newest enlisted troop. I got home to a world in 07 that was retreating into screens, I’ve been guilty of the same, if we want a country worth living in we need to get out from behind our walls and screens to engage with one another in conversation, not always in trying to prove the other person wrong or with a specific outcome in mind.

     What was your high point while serving?

     The people. I met some of the bravest, brightest men and women of the United States, immigrants who came to the United States to serve our country, as well as people in Iraq and Bosnia who cared so deeply about their homes and worked, or are still working so hard to rebuild their nations. I take a lot of daily inspiration and hope from all the people I met in and outside of the uniform.

     Low point?

     The leadership. There were a lot of great leaders I had the good fortune to spend time with and learn from during my time in service. I got to work with a lot of different branches and nationalities as well and still count a handful of those leaders as mentors and coaches today. But something happens along the way where leaders seem to stop worrying about accountability, owning and learning from their own mistakes, and instead focusing on ego and evaluation bullets. As we moved from finding weapons of mass destruction to winning the global war on terrorism to building peace and democracy in Iraq in the year I was there, I felt like our higher levels of leadership beyond the Brigade was not seeing the same thing we were on the ground and were more interested in what they could say they did during the war vs. what actually happened.

     What are some projects you are working on now?

     A couple of years after I came back, a friend I deployed with introduced me to rock climbing and that changed my life. It gave me something to live for vs. live against. It was a means to joy vs. anger and ultimately a path to meet a ton of people who had very different life experiences than me. It helped me realize it wasn’t just veterans who had hard times and helped me find a place back home other than always crowing about who I was-it gave me a path to become.

     I worked with other veterans in the outdoors for a long time and started to wonder if I could change the conversation and add to my own narrative of the places I had been to fight, if I went back to ski or climb-so that launched Adventure Not War. So far I’ve climbed in Angola, skied in Iraq and Afghanistan, and am planning a fly fishing trip to Bosnia this fall or in 2023, and want to also go back to ski in Abkhazia.

     At the end of our trip in Afghanistan, some Afghan skiers asked how we could help skiing in the region, so I partnered up with Doug Bernard and two crazy Dutch guys, Olaf and Peter, to support a bunch of Kyrgyz skiers in launching a free ride ski event for Central Asia. Folks can check out that film here: https://www.rei.com/blog/snowsports/adventure-not-war

     I also took what I learned from supporting veterans outdoors, partnered up with a mental health professional Koorosh Rassekh, and launched Happy Grizzly Adventures to support people in Intentional Adventure where they have the best chance at a transformational experience in the outdoors.

     How can people support your efforts?

     #1 is to go out and talk to, get to know, someone who has a different belief system than you do. Find out why they believe what they do and see where there might be things that connect us vs. drive us apart.

     #2, folks can donate to Silk Road Freeride and if individuals or companies are really stoked on what we have going on, get in touch and we can try and tailor something specific to your philanthropic needs and wants.

     What’s your favorite type/types of music?

    I grew up with guys like Tennessee Ernie Ford, so after a youth spent in hardcore and heavy metal, Danzig is still in heavy rotation, I listen to a lot of Blue Grass and Americana these days.

     Favorite ski?

    I rode Factions for a lot of years and they were a great partner in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lately though, I’ve teamed up with G3 and there’s nothing more fun than the Slay’r on even the smallest, let alone the deepest, powder day. Light, super responsive ski that makes all your dreams come true and is easy on my 43 year old knees! Also-always wear a helmet, and Pret feels as different on your head as a baseball cap.

     Favorite comedian?

    I miss Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor. I generally spend my lunch hour cruising standup comedy on line. I saw a bit from Margaret Cho that had me rolling pretty hard a week or two ago.

    How can people find you?

     Stacyabare or happygrizzlyadventures on Instagram is the easiest way. Or check out www.happygrizzlyadventures.com or www.silkroadfreeride.com

    www.adventurenotwar.com is the repository for the different films and articles we’ve made so far.

    Alcohol, Creativity and the Shady Secret of 30SECOUT

    Alcohol, Creativity and the Shady Secret of 30SECOUT

    Most of the designs we sell were conceptualized while buzzed on alcohol. I usually prefer red wine or vodka soda to be specific. 1-3 drinks, to be specific-er. 4+ drinks kick me out of the creative flow state most of the time, so there's a sweet spot. There’s also less editing to do the next day when writing in the 1-3 drink window, in my experience. Being very drunk doesn't work for me.


    Most designs we launch are successful, but some flops have been created while on the devil's juice, and while sober to be honest. What I have found is that ideas flow freely with a buzz on. Freely, as in no constraints and of varying quality. That's expected when brainstorming, and at that moment, most of them seem fantastic. That's why we need to write them down and look over them carefully the next day, sober. The problem is, sometimes we feel so convinced that the idea is impressive that we make an irreversible decision while buzzed. I don't recommend this. It's almost always better to sleep on it and exercise some discipline and patience. I've made some dumb business decisions while drinking over the years: nothing catastrophic, but things like over-promising something in the moment that stresses me out the next day. I've also ordered way too many T-shirts to sell on an unproven design, so they sit on the shelves, not making revenue. I've also agreed to do projects I don't want to or have the time to tackle. You know the routine.


    Can alcohol improve your mental processing and lead to better business ideas? Yes. It also depends on the type of task we ask our brains to do.

    You may have heard the quote, "Write drunk, edit sober." People often think Hemingway said it, but he didn't. The writer Peter De Vries did, and it makes total sense because we can see snippets of our past played out in this context.

     

    The publication Science and Cognition has a nice writeup on several studies examining the effects of mild alcohol intoxication on creativity. The studies found that mild intoxication improved creative problem solving but did not affect divergent thinking and reduced executive control, go figure.

     

    In a nutshell, alcohol improves creativity by suppressing our working memory. It reduces our inhibitions, allowing us more space to work creatively with less speed bumps getting in the way worrying about “what others might think.” It also decreases our analytical ability. Think less left brain and more right brain. You can geek out on the terminology and details HERE.

     

    "Research has shown that the more working memory people have at their disposal, the better they perform on all sorts of analytical tasks that pop up at school and work. But, interestingly, wielding more working memory may hinder performance whenever thinking creatively or 'outside the box is necessary." - Psychology Today

     

    So armed with this knowledge, can it be used to accomplish key tasks and responsibilities? I think so. Here's what I have done.

    Disclaimer: First, you need to be of legal drinking age. What I'm sharing here is not advice, so don't do this. I'm simply telling you what I do at times. 

     

    If I need to create a new design and I'm really struggling, I set that task aside and get back on it with 1-3 glasses of wine, no more. I work on the big picture of the design, usually in Adobe illustrator, but sometimes I simply rough sketch the idea on paper or whiteboard until my mind starts to get lazy and I feel a noticeable drop in creative energy. At this point, I save the work for later. The nice thing is if the idea the next day still seems fantastic, I can work on it without the alcohol, which is nice because I hate hangovers, even mild ones. I also do not commit to the design by ordering a bunch of products while buzzed. That is risky. I only do that after sober reflection, and if it's a new design or concept that you're not sure folks will like, go lighter on the order/commitment.

     

    Write your ideas down, especially when buzzed. You'll likely find that there are some hilariously stupid ideas there, but also some serious winners. I use the notes app on my iPhone because I am terrible at notebooks and remembering where I put them. Better yet, get some cool points and use a bar napkin to write your idea down. Just remember to fold it up and put it in your pocket. The next day you might pull out a life-changing concept. 

    Cheers!

    Evan

    Founder, Thirty Seconds Out

    What’s It Like To Shoot With Clint Eastwood?

    What’s It Like To Shoot With Clint Eastwood?

    I got a text from a friend a while back asking if I wanted to go to the shooting range. I was busy working on a project and said I couldn’t make it. My friend was adamant I show up, ensuring me it would be worth it. Clint Eastwood was coming to shoot that day, but my buddy wasn’t sharing that info over text. He was doing a good job of keeping Clint under the radar and respecting his privacy as well. Since he was insistent, I decided to grab my guns and head over.

    I arrived at the range, grabbed my gear, and was trying to figure out what the big deal was that day. He informed me Clint Eastwood was on his way over to do some shooting. “Yeah right,” I said. He just gave me a look, letting me know he wasn’t joking around. Sure enough, Clint rolls up 5 minutes later. 

    Clint was cool. No oversized ego to navigate and no annoying celebrity qualities that are all too common, like neediness, complaints, and cringe-worthy snobbery. None of that. He came across as more of a blue-collar guy, right up my alley. 

    We started out shooting pistols. Clint was a good shot, and yes, he shot one-handed a lot of the time. The only point of improvement I offered him was to get his shoulders more forward like he was about to throw or receive a punch. Other than that, he was solid with his weapons handling. I wasn’t surprised as he has gotten a lot of training over the years preparing for films.

    Here’s the awesome part. The moment the range went cold for the last time, Clint removes his hat, takes a knee, and starts picking up brass! My buddy and I told him he didn’t have to do that, but he said, “It’s no problem. I shot it and need to help clean up.” So, we all picked up our brass together, then we all went and had a few Coronas at a buddy's house with Clint.

    Clint Eastwood picks up his own brass, and he didn’t make a big deal about it! Be like Clint.

    --Evan

    New Tee- Work The Plan

    New Tee- Work The Plan

    We're back at it again with another badass collaboration. We recently got the opportunity to collaborate with, The Ready State. We always feel lucky to create with brands that uphold the same values and goals as ours. The Ready States mission is to help everyday athletes enjoy movement, agility, and strength; their end goal is to have athletes of all walks have less pain and more protection against injury. They're here to help adults of all levels understand the importance of recovery, pain relief, and self-care, especially as athletes get older. TRS gives athletes the tools to perform essential maintenance on themselves; they understand not everyone has a team of trainers to take care of them. They are here to support the everyday athlete and provides them with information to keep their bodies mobile.

    With that being said, 30 Seconds Out and The Ready State give you "Work the Plan." Featured in two different colors, make it what you want. Dr. Kelly Starrett, co-founder of The Ready State, gave us the inspiration behind the design. Starrett said, "It is about being consistent over being heroic, "Work the Plan" is the heart of the message; make the best choice out of the options presented to you. Trust yourself, don't overthink or second guess." The leopard is the core of the design, symbolizing a human being's full physical capacity. The leopard doesn't need a pep talk; it doesn't have to activate its glutes; it has access to this power at a moment's notice, ready to attack and defend in the blink of an eye. The third eye on the leopard represents the self-awareness of our capacity to be self-reliant, resilient, and badass creatures. Self-awareness can seem like a superpower from the outside, like having a sixth sense. The leopard knows what needs to be done.

    Make sure you go checkout the The Ready State and all they do. On top of adding a new badass tee to your collection a portion of the "Work the Plan" tees will be donated to the Clean Water Corps, a task force specialized in focusing on combating the global water crisis. Operated entirely by veterans, they're serving there communities once again.