An Adultitis Fighter is someone who rallies against rules that don’t exist and engages in ruthless, senseless acts of silliness that undermine Adultitis and its unadventurous version of adulthood. Once a month, we shine a light upon the most remarkable among us, holding them up as a dazzling example of what we should strive for in this epic battle against a formidable enemy.
We selected Sara Gast as this month’s Fighter, because she is a tremendous example of how to stage a comeback against Adultitis. By her own admission, it snuck up on her and had a hand in some rough times in her life. But with a new perspective and the courage to start telling a different story, she emerged stronger and happier, and has been keeping Adultitis on the run ever since!
One of our favorite strategies that Sara has implemented are her monthly “tea parties,” which she describes below. She shares a ton of other tips and great advice for winning the war against Adultitis. Sara is a single mom dealing with many of the same challenges we all have. But the simple tactics she uses everyday produce extraordinary results. And most importantly, her example of taking on daily trials with hope and humor is the greatest gift she could ever give her daughter.
In recognition of their efforts, Adultitis Fighters of the Month receive a special mini-canvas hand-painted by Jason, along with a certificate of honor, a sweet patch, and other Adultitis-Fighting tools. We asked Sara some questions about how she fights the Big A and what advice she has for others…
What are some of your favorite ways to fight Adultitis?
For a small, daily way to fight Adultitis, I keep “Pokey” on my desk at work, and he also hangs by my St. Christopher medal from my rear-view mirror in my car, too. (Note: Learn more about Pokey and his feathered successor, Marty.)
My biggest Adultitis-fighter is my monthly tea parties. I heard Jason tell a woman’s story of the mismatched plates, and have always loved hosting events, so I wanted to have an outlet that tied in “Escape Adulthood” with ladies making new friends and simple camaraderie. So, once a month – September through May – on a Saturday morning for 2 hours, I open my home to only a few women (I have a small place), and we drink loose teas and I attempt to make delicious food/goodies for us to dine on. And, of course, the requirement is that everyone dons one of my vintage “British-inspired” (think “Downton Abbey” – HUGE fan of that show!) hats.
It’s been such fun, and above all, great to see the women meet and start new friendships with others, as well as have a support system (I say it’s “Vegas rules”, we can talk about anything/everything and it stays there, confidentially) where they can ask others about personal things or “how did you handle…” style questions. So that’s been fun to host for the past two years, and I look forward to many more!
It’s fun to now guide my daughter as she grows up (she is nearly 7 years old), to keep her innocence, break rules and not be tied down by anxiety and worry that life brings, and find joy in everything. As a divorced mother, it’s important to me that she still feels we are a family, even if it’s just her and I right now, so every summer I try to plan a small getaway within my budget and we have dubbed it our “Eat Dessert First” vacation! That’s right! Every meal, we order dessert first. She absolutely loves it, and for one excursion my two teenage nieces were with us and it delighted them as well! I’m looking forward to doing a “Pajama Run” with my daughter, too, in the near future now that ice cream stands are back open in Wisconsin after the long winter.
Who or what has been the greatest influence in your own fight against Adultitis?
My mom has always been my biggest supporter in anything I do, and taught me as a child how to embrace my own silliness and create my own fun. However, it was Jason and Kim that really helped me realize what a bad case of Adultitis I had (by around age 30), and inspired me to make positive changes to bring back my inner child-like enthusiasm in a lot of things.
Since hearing Jason speak back around 2010, it’s been fun to break rules and inspire others by spreading the message of “Escape Adulthood.” I just love that everything about “Escape Adulthood” revolves around making great memories and living fantastic stories. That’s all that really matters in life, and it’s a legacy I want to leave behind someday…that I truly lived with my whole heart, and positively inspired others.
What is something you loved doing as a child that you still do in some form today?
I have always loved costumes and acting out a character. As a child, I played dress-up and had visions of various jobs someday (nurse, teacher). As a teen, I loved musical theater; my biggest role on stage was The Evil Stepmother in “Cinderella.” As an young adult in college, I mascoted 3 years at UW-Stevens Point (Go Pointers!).
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays – for the creativity that people reflect in their costumes – and I brought it back in full swing in 2013. Struggling through a very bad divorce, I decided to have fun and be silly by making “minion” costumes for me and my daughter. It was a blast! I’ll never forget one of my sisters seeing me in costume, and nearly peeing her pants she was laughing so hard. And since then, I’ve been “The Mirthful Minion of Merry-making;” it’s an honor that many think of me when they see a minion.
In 2014, Leah wanted to be “Elsa,” of course, so I had a ton of fun making an “Olaf” costume for myself…and even got hired out by a friend to attend her daughter’s 3rd birthday party as “Olaf!” I wasn’t able to get a costume together in time for 2015; however, for 2016 I’m hoping to be “Mary Poppins”, one of my favorite Disney characters.
What is your strategy for dealing with people who are obviously infected with Adultitis?
I’ve gifted many “Pokeys” to others, as well as Jason’s awesome calendars, to hopefully impact their lives and spread cheer. Above all, I try to listen to people and what they feel overwhelmed by, their stresses, their expectations, societal or family expectations, etc. And after listening, I try to help them find ways they can break free of Adulititis. I love pointing out “not a rule” moments they can initiate, or “must be nice” moments – which can be true revelations to many – of just how lucky and blessed they truly are.
What advice do you have for someone who is feeling overwhelmed by Adultitis?
If you work full-time, use your vacation. DON’T ever roll over vacation days to the next year, unless you plan to be on a plane to a beach or vineyard by January 2. Those days are there for you to use – TAKE THEM! Mental health days are just as important as days off to see kids’ programs or do family vacations, etc. Take a page from many other cultures globally who work just as hard as we do in the States, but they also play hard…they know when to stop their day, and turn to activities of savoring life, having fun.
Lastly, find the joy in your life. Seriously, take that day off – or use an afternoon where you can be in a place that inspires you (by a favorite lake, in your favorite coffee shop, wherever) – and literally write down all that brings you joy in your life currently. Write down all that brings you stress, sadness, anxiety, anger. If your list of the latter is more than the former, obviously you’ve got changes that need to be made ASAP! But really think about things that make you happy, and do more of them. Seek new activities you’ve thought of trying – MAKE it happen, don’t just think about it, but DO it! And be realistic about your life. If something is holding you back, you must be holding on to it for whatever reason…and is it really worth holding on to if it’s denying you joy?
Anything else you’d like to share?
To all those who have become my friend through “Escape Adulthood” in recent years – whether we’re only friends on Facebook and share posts back/forth in the private “EA Group” page, or maybe we have been able to connect in person on occasion and make memories together: know that EACH OF YOU have positively impacted MY life in some form! My life is far richer with you all in it to keep me inspired, to help me keep Adultitis at bay, and to know that there are amazing, kind, compassionate, good, and silly people all over this world when it seems society has become so dark. YOU all are my beacons of light out there – so don’t EVER extinguish your flames! The world needs you – go and share your wonderful selves!
And to Kim and Jason: I love you guys and am in awe of your talents beyond words. You brought me back from a life of despair, truly. There is no compliment or action of gratitude large enough for me to thank you for the amazing people and friends you are to me.
Congrats to Sara Gast, April 2016 Adultitis Fighter of the Month. Thank you for making the world more awesome!