Wild Ideas Worth Living Transcript: 2018 Recap

Shelby Stanger: This is the Wild Ideas Worth Living 2018 Recap.


Shelby: Welcome to Wild Ideas Worth Living, an adventure podcast presented by REI Co-op, the brand who helps get you outside through gear, classes, and adventures. We talk to experts who’ve taken a wild idea and made it a reality so you can too. From people who’ve climbed the tallest peaks, started thriving businesses and even broken records. Some of the wildest ideas can lead to the most rewarding adventures. I’m your host, Shelby Stanger and I hope you enjoy this show.


Shelby: Hey, everyone, what a year. Thank you so much to all you listeners, to the guests who’ve come on the show, to those who wrote about it, shared it, sent me a note or a review and to REI who sponsored the show. We’ve had some epic people on the show from photographers to bestselling authors, experts on how to bio-hack your body, how to make and save more money, scientists, a female wildfire firefighter, an astronaut, big wave surfers, a few thru-hikers, a bunch ultra-marathon runners, rock climbers, artists, activists, nonprofit founders, entrepreneurs and motivational coaches.

This is the 97th show today. We’ve had well over 1 million downloads, well over a million and, well, it’s been a wild ride so thank you so much. Last year I shared a few things that I really took away from the shows. This year I wanted to share some more nuggets I not only learned from the guests, but from many of you in life in general. We’ll also play some highlight clips and quotes from select shows, but before we go hit subscribe.

We’re going to take a few weeks off to prepare for next year and I just wanted to make sure you get notified on new podcast when we start back up in January, but first a word from previous guest Semi-Rad’s Brendan Leonard about holiday time. This message is courtesy of REI, they’re the ones who keep this show free. Get you the gear you need to get outside and help you get out there and explore.


Brendan Leonard: We all know how fun it can be trying to make the holidays perfect for everyone and although your family probably loves the idea of you stressing out until you get sicker, exhausted just as much as you do. Maybe don’t do that this year and get yourself a little something special, some sanity. Instead of getting up at 5:00 AM to be first in line for a holiday sale try getting up at 5:00 AM to get first chair or instead of running yourself ragged trying to do everything try going for a run and taking care of yourself.

Maybe ditch last minute shopping for your loved ones and go last minute sledding or surfing with your loved ones instead, you know, outside. Wishing you simpler holidays from me and from REI.


Shelby: We did a lot of shows this year about hacking your health and feeling the best you can because after all health is our biggest piece of wealth. You could try breathing, exercises like the ones from Wim Hof, high-intensity training, saunas, ice baths, but the biggest piece of wisdom we heard from guests on how to feel better is just good old fashion getting outside and into nature. Florence Williams in her book, The Nature Fix, prove to us scientifically that being in nature makes us live happier, healthier, more productive lives.

Florence Williams: There is a lot of resource on this and it’s been shown that even this quick micro breaks where people are doing a task at their desk and they look out onto greenery like out of window, they actually come back to their tasks and they’re like 40% more accurate in what they’re doing and their attention span is better. They’re slightly more creative. Your brain is like a muscle and when you can relax parts of it and give parts of it a small break when you go back to doing your task it’s like you’re stronger and you’re fresher.

Obviously, if you can get more than a couple of seconds of looking out a window it’s better. There’s kind of a dose effect. It’s been shown that even 15 minutes of time outside can actually lower your blood pressure. It can reduce your stress hormones. It can boost your mood and make you feel fewer feelings of frustration. All of these things are going to make you a better employee.

Shelby: The next advice it’ll pretty hard. It was from the most listened to show of the year with Wild author Cheryl Strayed. She’s the woman who not only hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and came out the other side changed forever, but she fearlessly shares her most intimate pieces of her life with the world.


Shelby: This is the advice she gives her kids. Simple advice that’s extremely important.

Cheryl Strayed: I really have a lot of belief that we are all divine and I’d always taught my kids that kindness is the most important value that I hold. That’s the thing I want them to be when they grow up is kind. I don’t care if they’re a doctor or a lawyer or whatever I want them to be kind.

Shelby: Kindness. Kindness will soften any situation. It will make anything sour a lot sweeter and my mom always says you get more bees with honey than vinegar. Also, almost everyone you meet has a battle they’re fighting that you know nothing about. I’m a big fan being kind to others no matter what. Also, be really kind to yourself. Chances are when you live wildly you’re going to push yourself and sometimes when we push ourselves we can be really hard on ourselves.

I’m totally guilty of this one. Rebecca Rusch, known as the queen of pain and arguably one of the best all-around adventure athletes on the planet, she had some great advice on this topic.

Rebecca Rusch: The other part of that advice to myself and I still do it today is that you’re doing a good job. You’re okay. I think we’re all our own worst critic and one technique that I use a lot is I think about the words that I say to myself. Would I say if I touch myself with a negative loop in my head and I change the name and put in one of my best friends names. Would I say those words to a friend or even a stranger? Would I say, “Shelby, why are you even mountain biking you should get another job. You stop. You can’t do this.”

Would I say that? If I wouldn’t say that to you why would I say it to myself? I think that that’s one of my biggest brain training that’s cheap, easy, doesn’t cost anything is to change that dialogue and turn it around and stop talking yourself with the negative way because you change that dialogue and you say, yes, instead of, no, and all of a sudden you’re riding through that technical line.

Shelby: I love this advice. Rebecca is a master at pushing herself and over the years she’s learned that kindness to others, but especially to herself can be a game changer.


Shelby: Another great piece of advice so many shared is this.

Mirna Valerio: Living comfortable with not being comfortable.

Shelby: This is from the Mirnavator also known as Mirna Valerio. Mirna, in case you don’t remember is the Julliard trained musician, teacher, and writer. She’s the one who took up running ultramarathons and it started this blog called Fat Girl Running. It got a lot of attention rightfully so a bunch of magazines and news sites did stories on her. Even REI made this amazing video about her that went totally viral.

She has this warm kind personality and she’s really nice to herself too which is why I think she’s able to achieve so much. Like all the guests, Mirna is comfortable pushing herself out of her comfort zone, but she’s also very outspoken about being kind to her body.

Mirna Valerio: People know about whoever they are, whatever type of body they live in whether they are able bodied or differently abled or whatever that they could be out there enjoying the same kinds of things that everybody else does.

Shelby: Right now if you’re not totally where you want to be fitness wise, body wise whatever wise maybe like me you have an autoimmune condition making you have white spots on your skin whatever, own who you are. What you have right now. Be really kind to it, love it and then go do what you want to do. Most of you know the iceman, Wim Hof.

Wim Hof: We do strange, strange things, but you know what is stranger not to be yourself. [laughs]

Shelby: Be yourself. I love this man. Be yourself and then work hard to live the positive life you want. Earlier this year, Mirna, told me her goal was to quit her day job to be Mirna fulltime to speak, write, run, be a brand ambassador do all she does, but fulltime. I just checked her social media the girl is doing it. So Mirna, Wim, all the guests are true example of people who follow the wild idea and are living it and, no, this is not an endorsement to go quit your day job, but living wildly and following your passion isn’t always easy.

Brendan Leonard, the creator of Semi-Rad who you just heard before it’s a site Instagram page newsletter where he captures the absurdity, humor, and beauty in everyday adventure in outdoor life, well, he hit the nail on the head when he talked to me about following your passion. He said.

Brendan: It’s probably way more work than you think it is, and it’s probably going to take a lot longer than you think it will.

Shelby: Good things in life take time. They take work. They take commitment. They take patience. I’m a work in progress on the patience one. Alex Honnold, the man who free solo El Cap, he sure got of attention this year. So did his movie if you haven’t seen it yet. I had a lot of fun talking to Alex and even though I’d never ever recommend you go free solo anything, Alex is a testament to being able to achieve something really big with time, with patience and massive amounts of preparation.

Alex Honnold: Looking through a goal is sort of– like if somebody is training for their first marathon and they just keep building up. It’s like, “I want to run a marathon, 26 miles, that’s the most I could ever do.” The reality is that 26 miles is not the most any human can do. I think that rather than build up this marathon as like, “This is the ultimate goal of my life,” look past it as like, “This is a stepping stone on the way to whatever else I’m doing with the rest of my life.”

Shelby: Shannon Walker, a NASA astronaut, spent years in grade school then high school then college then grad school then astronaut school studying things like robotics in space physics. She even moved to Russia not only had to learn to operate a spacecraft, but she had to do it in Russian before she could ever get to space. She said besides patience, she had to get really comfortable with failure, but you trained for it.

Shannon: So much of your training is dealing with failure scenarios. If something happens in a real flight, you’ve seen it before, and you know what you need to do to remedy the situation.

Shelby: It’s one thing to prepare for failure so you can avoid it if it’s life and death. It’s another just to embrace failure when it’s not going to cost your life but will help you grow. I tried my best to showcase failing on the show more this year. Sometimes you only see the rosy sides of people, especially on social media so on this podcast, I tried to keep it as real as possible.

Peter: Failure, that’s the best way to learn because you’re feeling, you feel that emotion, you feel the downs.

Shelby: This is from big wave surfer, Peter Mel. I love the analogy in surfing of dropping into a wave when it comes to chasing your dreams or your wild ideas. There’s a similar analogy in skiing and other sports but in surfing, there’s always this moment when you’re paddling for a wave, especially if it’s a bigger one, when you’re looking over the edge and it looks like you could get absolutely smashed and toppled or you could catch the ride of your life.

Usually, you end up somewhere in between but if you don’t go, you’ll never know. The worst is not paddle out at all, to not drop in. Then you’re just left on the beach super sandy in sunburn. Fear, it’s something we all have. I had some fear and I worried every time I released a podcast, would you like it? Would the guests like it? Would REI like it? What if I accidentally use the word like or awesome or something totally inappropriate way too much?

Eventually, every week, I just had to let go and post. There’s this beautiful saying I keep seeing all over, “Turn worry into wonder.” I love that. I also like this from Gabby Reece, the fitness guru and just amazing woman who said this.

Gabby: We can’t allow the fear to get in the way of the dream.

Shelby: As the new year approaches, you all have dreams that maybe you realized, maybe you’re still working on, maybe you’re setting new dreams in motion now. The key is to start, we talked about it last year a lot. Go untie those dark lines, get some hiking shoes ideally at REI, lace them up and walk on to the mountain. Tate McDowell, who earlier this year, climbed Grand Teton well under chemotherapy said it best.

Tate: I think to myself now like if I’m going to be successful at something I really have to worry about the starting line. Like in being prepared to begin something.

Shelby: Starting is the hardest part and there’s rarely a good time to go.

Scott: Even if everything isn’t perfect in life, the time is now.

Shelby: That was Scott Jurek, who- he set the speed record for the Appalachian Trail few years ago and wrote about it. Scott is one of the best ultra runners in the world. There was a lot of running this year and hiking. I found myself on more runs on hikes, on trails than ever before. A lot of you wrote to say the show caused you to go out and hike more with friends and loved ones as well.

One of you said the show caused you to do 100-mile thru-hike over the break and I actually saw a listener on the trail thru-hiking through mammoth and that was a highlight. The other day I saw my name pop up in an article a listener had written. Taylor Kelsey wrote, “He broke a personal record. He ran 15 miles, all at once just on a whim.” He writes, “I was doing my usual run of six miles and decided to keep going.”

A 15-mile run was wild idea to me but listening to Scott Jurek on the podcast discussing the Appalachian Trail 2,189 miles in 46 days, it made my feet seem downright reasonable. Taylor said he’s been inspired by the guests and he tries his best to get outside but then he says, “The guests aren’t weekend warriors who use the outdoors as escape from their lives. The outdoors are their lives.”

He writes, “They’re living intentionally. I’ve never felt more inspired to quit my job, move into a van and travel aimlessly through the American West until my money runs out. To not know where I’m sleeping that night or what I’ll experience along the way. Ultimately, I want to live intentionally like Shelby’s guest.” He then goes on to say he’s not living the life he’s wanted and listening to the show made him feel really bad.

Later, he corrects himself as I hope any of you who compare your lives to other guests do. He says, “I snapped back to reality. I tricked myself into believing that living intentionally means doing exactly what you want at every moment but submitting to every whim isn’t the same as living intentionally. In reality, living with intention is bigger, it means taking control of what you can and finding peace with what you can’t.

I may not be able to travel full time,” he writes, “But I can still have wild ideas that are worth living like running 15 effing miles for God’s sake and living wildly but that’s easy to forget when I’m worshipping the fringes of human accomplishment as the only definition of success. Now, when I listen to each podcast episode, I realize that life is wild enough on its own. For my newly developed distance, I can apply the experience of others to improve my own particular brand of intentional living.”

Taylor, thank you so much. The point in this podcast is to really show what can be done, what others have done so you can do what you can do, take what you like, and leave the rest, then go do what’s best for you. By the way, no one I interviewed does everything they want at all times of every day. Life is a balance of compromise and boldness and choices. Also, we all know comparison is the biggest thief of joy.

One of the other biggest takeaways I had this whole year came from Courtney Carver, author of Soulful Simplicity. It was about letting go the FOMO or fear of missing out and having more JOMO, the joy of missing out.

Courtney: I was just doing too much and I couldn’t enjoy any of it because there was just too much going on. Through this whole process of simplifying and taking better care of myself, I realized that I’m an introvert and I really love missing out. I find great joy in saying no, but so often with FOMO, we’re just on the hunt for opportunity and invitations then it’s hard to say no, because what if you miss out. I just twist that around and say, “What if I do? Then what?” I’m probably going to be better because of it.

Shelby: On the show and in her book, she talks about the power of simplifying our lives. I’m a big fan of keeping it simple and light, wanting less so I can actually have more. I’m also a fan of literally keeping myself light, telling as many jokes, not at the expense of others as possible and taking myself and sometimes even my work less seriously. Just like guest Florence Williams proved that nature makes us happier, healthier, and perform better, I believe humor does too.

Have a laugh, get outside, get a nature and start wherever you are doing whatever it is you want to do. Please, be kind to yourself and others. I bet whatever you’re doing, whether you’re taking care of kids, hiking your local mountain, working at a job, going to school, running a race, I bet you’re living more wildly than maybe you give yourself credit for. Next year, we’re revamping the show.

Each show will be a little more robust with some bigger topics we’re diving into, and hopefully, they’ll help you live life a little more wildly with a little more light and a lot more fun. This year I’ve also become as interested in adventuring inside as I do out. We’ll explore more of that as well. This year has been a joy, sometimes hard and exhausting but in the end, I’m really grateful for this journey I’m on with all of you.

Thank you for your letters and pitches your hilarious comments and reviews on Apple podcast and iTunes for telling me you’re circumnavigating the world through hiking across the USA, going on a 15 or 5-mile run, taking up surfing in your 50s and 60s and getting sober. All of it is wonderful. Hit subscribe because we’ll be back next year and until then, I’m going to practice what I preach and unplug a little this holiday season myself.

Happy holidays. Happy New Year. Wherever you’re listening to this show don’t forget some of the best adventures often happen when you follow your wildest ideas. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Shelby: It takes a village to do a podcast, a small one. Thanks first to my producer, Annie Fassler, who edits these shows together. To the team at REI for sponsoring the show and keeping it free to listen to. Thank you to Chelsea Davis, Joe Crosby, Paolo Mottola and to the guys of marketing like Kreg and Ben Steel, I really appreciate you taking a chance on us, thank you also to Kayla Perlstein who helps me with my social media, and Alex Homestead, a listener who’s been helping create audiograms every week.

Lastly, thank you to the guest, to you listening and to Johnny, my partner in crime who edits all my show notes, and listens to all my, “What if I should do this? Or should I do this?” every day. To all my friends who act like fans and to all of you again for listening to the show, for going out and living wildly, for inspiring me every day. We’ll see you next year.

[00:20:48] [END OF AUDIO]

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