My time with Staci Taustine, the founder of Stubborn Heart Consulting, was brief, albeit, illuminating. After our conversation, I left wide-eyed and grinning. She has a magical quality about her and I can only imagine what she could unleash with more time.
Staci’s business is a passion project turned entrepreneurial adventure. She’s a self-proclaimed “inter-generational coach,” certified by what she says is just “life itself.”
She has the unique ability to connect candidly, with an authentic style that draws you ever closer. She guides you. She teaches you to be honest with yourself. She helps you confront your dreams, hopes, struggles, and worries – to open up the space necessary to let goodness in.
One thing is for certain: she has lived a life. Despite the uncertainty of her path at times due to medical issues, chronic pain, and hospitalizations, Staci broke down barriers to find her purpose in the universe. This is what she does; she helps people with the humbling human question, the question of purpose.
During her journey, she’s learned that pain is universal and recovery is by no means linear. And, when we release ourselves from the restraints of reaching perfection, we can finally allow true inspiration into our lives.
Now, she’s using the power of community to shine a guiding light for people who are lost in the dark.
What do you do and why do you do it?
By day, I run a leadership program [with Coro New York]. I was a teacher out of college working in inner city Baltimore, so my heart is as a teacher first, probably. I think that’s where I learned what my place would be in the world and I definitely find purpose being a resource, and a guardian and a guide for young people.
Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with a lot of health issues – wasn’t fully diagnosed until I was 17, but I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and later found out Endometriosis, and both of these conditions involve a good amount of chronic pain. That frustrated me, it made me feel different, it made me feel like I couldn’t keep up with the life I wanted to live and I felt like I was doing everything I could to try to take care of myself but nothing was working. One component of PCOS is insulin resistance and trouble with metabolism, so I was always extremely overweight, regardless of eating calorie-controlled diets and committing to really heavy workout plans. I felt deprived a lot of my life of what everyone else seemed to have and I didn’t.
I got really involved with my health and tried to understand ways that I could potentially improve my situation, which led to a series of health situations – first being gastric bypass. I went through that surgery in 2013. But had a number of really awful complications and had three or four more surgeries after that, to the point where everything I loved about who I was supposed to be felt like it was kind of taken away, because I couldn’t do what I wanted to do in the classroom and for students and for the people I loved, and for myself, and so I fought my way back.
I found cycling, I started spinning – when I first got on the bike I was almost 300 pounds – I felt out of place, I felt scared, I felt embarrassed, but I went, and I went again and again and I came to find out that a lot of the instructors who were on the podium had a story too – whether that was alcoholism, or a battle with drugs, or a variety of different things, that was an outlet for them to overcome their struggle, so I thought “maybe this is my fight… maybe this is how I fight.” And, I thought, why not become an instructor? That could be a way to push myself and do something about the lack of control I felt in my own life.
I was really on top of the world at this point, I had finally got my weight under control, I was running a leadership program, I was in NYC, the place I always dreamed of being, and then June of 2016 it all crumbled – I had a perforated intestine, I collapsed on the floor of the 86th street subway station and I was 15 minutes away from dead when they got to me. So, had the pleasure of going to the other side, and coming back only to realize that I was in the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I’d like to think I’m an optimistic person but I was just pissed off…I was just really resentful and I spent a month in the hospital and I had a feeding tube.
During that time, someone gave me a quote, and it said: “Magic happens when you don’t give up no matter how badly you want to. The universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart.”
And, that’s where I got the stubborn part from…and so, when I got to this point, that I realized recovery is not linear and every day was different and I had choices about how I wanted to spend my time here now, it got to the point where I was like “Fuck it. I’m going to make this real for other people, because I’ve needed this kind of love and I’ve needed this kind of help and other people need this too.”
Has something kept you optimistic or hopeful during this journey?
I’m stubborn enough to believe in blind trust – which is that if I keep going I trust that the universe will have my back eventually and that even though I don’t see the beauty in it right now and even though this hurts, there’s messages of hope in the people around me every day. And, that comes to me in little forms of love and compassion from strangers, from people in my life who show up just when I need them, at those moments when I’m truly just done and it happens all the time – it’s a monthly thing…if human nature is kind and humans are good then I can keep going. The days when you feel like you’re being left behind and there’s no one there who cares, it’s so much easier to let go. And, that’s the part that I’m so stuck on which is if you don’t know those people now, we have to find them.
What’s the best gift you ever got?
It’s friendship, risking sounding corny. When I met my first best friend in college, and I was away from the life I’d lived here, I learned a lot about what being a friend is. And, the fact that that person is far away and continues to be that person for me from a distance feels like a gift all the time, because it gives me the sense that someone is always out there. So, even if shit’s a mess and things are frazzled, there’s something about the all-knowing presence of someone who’s in the world looking out for you.
What’s the worst gift you ever got?
Towels. So, my mom will hate me for sharing this, but, it has layers we won’t go into…I think it was three years ago for Christmas, I got a set of towels. And, I cried, because I was thoroughly offended that was my Christmas gift, which, I’m pretty gracious I like to think, but I just wasn’t in that place where adulthood as it is now would have me excited about towels. So, at the time, it didn’t land well. But, I look back and I have nothing but empathy for my mom because she thought she was being helpful. I think I felt catapulted into “adulting” and I wasn’t ready for it. Nowadays I’m like “Hand towels? Tell me more! You’re talking dirty to me.”
What’s your advice for all things love, sex, and dating?
I am not the authority on this one… I am 29 years old and I have never been in a relationship until now. And, I think that there are a lot of reasons for that. This journey has taught me that self-love is the most important relationship you’ll ever have and that’s the first relationship I’m in, and the only one I’ll ever care about, because I will never give up this feeling of being enough. I still have to convince others of it, and that’s the sad part. Right? Once you find it, people still question “Hey, but you’re a 14. Don’t you wanna love yourself a little more a size or two down?” You know what, no, actually. I love myself right here, and I don’t have a goal dress anymore. And, that’s a relationship I’ll fight for and the person I will be with forever sees all that beauty like I do. I’ve been dating someone for three weeks and so far, he sees every amount of it that I do, and it gives me a lot of hope. And if it’s not him, then it’s another person – the only person meant for me is the person who sees me the way I see myself.
I said to a student the other day, “Love doesn’t hurt,” because young people are sold messages all the time about what love is, and it starts with us – we have to teach our girls and our boys and everyone really that’s the only relationship that matters, and everything else will come.
What’s your go-to pick me up?
My heating pad is my best friend. I’m a warm weather person and that’s the closest thing I can get to a beach in weather like this, so laying with my heating pad and watching romantic comedies have always been my go-to. I’m a big fan of loving the stories anyway. I like to think I’m like this badass who doesn’t need anyone and I think it’s still okay to like the happy ending on TV… I like to curl up and watch “10 Things I Hate About You,” “Can’t Hardly Wait” or “She’s All That,” some of those ‘80s, ‘90s chick-flick happy movies that bring me to this place of calm. My other guilty pleasure is SVU because they always get the bad guy, and there’s something about that that always brings me joy.
Tell us about your first heartbreak.
I think everyone assumes heartbreak is romantic and it’s not always. Our little selves experience heartbreak in such different ways and mine was when I was ten, my parents split. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I think that was the first day my world crumbled. That was the first day I felt like I was going to be on my own and it was up to me to make things work, and that’s in so many ways shaped me into who I am and my resilience. But, in so many ways, I feel sorry for that little ten year old who felt like the world she knew wasn’t that same world anymore. So I would like to call that my heartbreak because, I think remembering those moments and honoring them as having a place in our story is really important.
Tell us about a time you bounced back better than ever.
I’m like a fucking slinky. 2017 has been a really big year for me, personally, just because I feel like I have negotiated the most with myself and I say negotiated because there’s so much work in it – I hate to say bounced back because bounced back implies that you’re good now and I think the work is ongoing. For me, there’s a lot of fear in saying that, because every time I’ve “bounced back,” I’ve fallen pretty quickly right after, and I hesitate to hinge my hat on that being success, right? Because, ultimately, that’s how life works – it’s a never-ending series of ups and downs. So, this time, I’d like to think of it as me being most ready for whatever comes my way and embracing the fact that I have absolutely no control over that.
What’s in store for Staci’s 2018? More leaning into possibility and living her truth. And, she’s game to bring any other warriors along with her for the ride. After all, she believes it’s never too late to recreate yourself or change your story. We all have that power.
Her upcoming “Stubborn Heart Kickstart” holistic program will begin February 4th – six weeks of heart-healing, habit-changing commitment. Twenty five women will come together as strangers uniting with a common purpose – to do something different and embrace that feeling of being absolutely 100% enough. Through cycling classes twice a week and a weekly seminar to help women connect through team building, it’s sure to be a life-changing experience. To learn more about Staci and all her courses, visit www.stubbornheart.org.
If you’re interested in meeting Staci to hear more about her story and her offerings, join her at a launch event and short workshop at Athleta on New York City’s Upper East Side, 1517 3rd Ave, on Jan. 31 at 5 p.m.