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When Life Gets Tough, Bake Cookies

By Stacy Hope Small, CEO, Stacy Maui Cookies, Inc

True confession of a healthy cookie baker: It feels weird sitting down to write a “thank you” note for all that I am grateful for at the end of a seriously WEIRD year. Even the most intuitive amongst us (myself included) never could have predicted exactly how 2020 would go. But, while it has been anything but EASY to roll with the unexpected plot twists, there is always goodness that emerges from the darkness. And for that, I am grateful.

2020 will go down as the year I lived out the sequel to WHY NOT ME?!?

My own version of life as a super busy luxury travel advisor was upended in March, two months after relocating full-time to Maui in search of a “more peaceful” existence. This time last year, I had set the intention to create a lifestyle of “less busy-ness” and more peace. I had quietly declared it the year of “no conferences” and LESS travel and MORE time at home with my sweet rescue pups. And whoa, did that happen or what? I know it has not been exactly as I imagined but my fantasy of being grounded on my favorite island turned to reality, and for that, I am extremely grateful.

I took to baking gluten-free/grainfree/vegan cookies a few years ago on my journey to better health after a decade of battling things like mono, toxic metals and anemia. I couldn’t find anything on the shelves that tasted “freshly baked” and was delicious despite being void of grains/gluten/eggs/dairy. So, I made my own version of the cookie that’s spent 2020 gaining a following amongst other “conscious” cookie lovers seeking a healthier (but still delicious!) snack.

Grateful to be healthy and safe while building a cookie biz on an island with three rescue dogs

Before closing the page on the 2020 chapter of the book I may just title “When Life Gets Tough, Bake Cookies”, I wanted to properly memorialize my gratitude. It’s easy to get caught up in the “Why is this all happening to me?” but I’ve been guided to share with anyone who will listen to just be grateful for it all. This is how and when the magic happens, not when we are busy lamenting the changes or pining for a past that’s just that, in the past. Worrying about the future has never served me well, either.

For today, here is what I am most grateful for:

  1. My own intuition. It speaks loudly to me, and is the best teacher of going with the flow even when it might not make sense at the time. This year, I listened to my inner GPS that guided me to Maui in January, despite still having a house to sell in a location I loved. There is no where in the world I would choose to be grounded for an entire year other than Maui. So there’s that. I am extremely grateful I did not resist the “knowing” that I needed to get here quickly.

  2. My three rescue dogs. Sure, it’s cliché to go with the “man’s best friend” saying, but my three boys and I are a bonded little family unit and we have enjoyed our year of me being a full-time stay-at-home dog mom! No traveling meant no leaving behind Pono, Mikey and Romeo who make every single day a lot more fun and filled with love. Even during a pandemic.

  3. My health. After years of focusing hardcore on getting healthy, this was my year to put into practice all I learned in 2016/17 when recovering from serious illness. I know the secrets to a healthy immune system, as I’ve not always had one. It’s a lot more than just taking vitamin D, though. It’s the “food is medicine” theory I’ve learned from my own team of naturopaths, holistic healers and myself. I know what my body/system needs to stay high-vibe and healthy. I am grateful that at 51, I am much healthier than I was a decade ago.

  4. My team. Nothing about the StacyMaui brand or the StacyMauiCookies business would exist the way it does without the committed support of the uber-talented Madeline Fuhrman who designed the and website and has been my “soul daughter” of sorts as we’ve been on this 2020 “reinvention” journey. And a childhood friend, Brendon Rennert, who stepped in to partner with me this fall, and to help us “build the business of our dreams”.

  5. Our healthier cookie fans! While we are JUST getting started, I can’t possibly overlook the immense gratitude I have for each of our original taste-testers, customers and chefs and friends who have supported this crazy new path. Sparking JOY one reiki-infused healthier gluten-free cookie at a time is our motto. THANK YOU to the local hotels and stores here on Maui who have ordered cookies for your customers, and to every single person who’s purchased our “magical” cookies leading us to see a 200% increase in online sales. Whoa. That’s a LOT for a little start-up bootstrapped healthier cookie biz!

  6. The press who noticed. With a start up budget (meaning, none) for PR, the journalists who included us in their 2020 stories have earned a special place in my heart. Thank you Melissa Chang from Honolulu Magazine, Benet Wilson from The Points Guy, and Abby Ellin with Bloomberg (!) for sharing our story. As a formalist journalist myself, I know the value of a good story…and so appreciate being able to share mine with your audiences.

  7. Friends who are like Family. Even though my oldest and best friend Beth lives across an ocean + another 3000 miles, our friendship has become stronger than ever this year. Those who are in my life at this stage, as I evolve way past who I used to be, are the “ohana” I am MOST grateful for. Thank you. Mahalo. You all know (I think!?) who you are.

  8. The goodness coming. Vaccines are about to make traveling feel safe/possible again which means I will able to work with my favorite clients on the travels that didn’t happen in 2020. This in tandem with growing a conscious healthier cookie business, offering spiritual guidance/Maui retreats, and anything else needed to help the Maui community heal from the lingering effects of this challenging year.

So much goodness ahead. Have a happy healthy start to your 2021. And….because we want you to think of us with gratitude, feel free to use our code MAHALO2020 on your next order at

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