I’m going to be a Dad

I’m going to be a dad. I don’t know if that’s sunk in yet or not. I see my wife getting bigger (sorry, babe, but it was bound to happen sooner or later — she still looks great by the way), but I don’t know if the fact that all the planning and talking about it has really sunk in yet. Kelly and I used to look at our dog and say, “isn’t it crazy we are responsible for this living thing?” Then we’d pet him on the head and turn on some music for him and go out to dinner for a few hours. I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’m pretty sure there’s a chapter about not being able to put some baby food in a bowl and assuring yourself that when baby gets hungry enough, he’ll eat.

I’m excited for everything about being a dad, and I think I need to tell my wife that more. Sometimes, this blog is my way of telling her things that I’m not good at telling her in the moment; something I need to work on (and solid piece of advice for baby R when he gets a little older). But I am excited for sleepless nights, diapers, jogging with baby R in the stroller and talking to him about the Lions or my last race, or his next race (Baby Spartan Race — is that a thing yet?). I don’t think it’s going to be easy, but I think Kelly and I are equipped to handle it.

I’m excited about what being a dad will mean to my marriage. I think you hear a lot about people that aren’t in a good place, get pregnant, and hope that it “fixes” whatever is broken in their marriage. Being able to bring a baby into a home that is solid will amplify the good things we already have going for us — mostly involving making each other laugh by doing dog (and soon to be baby) voices about the comings and goings of day-to-day living. I am excited about bringing a child into our family because I think our family rocks. I am excited about making myself into the kind of dad I want my son growing up and looking up to. I’m excited about being seen as a dad by other people. I don’t know if that is a vanity play or not, but I’m really proud that I’m going to be a dad.

Being a dad makes me proud of myself.

I’m also excited about being a dad at different stages of Baby R’s life. I love that I will get to teach him things I really don’t know a lot about, but he’ll believe that I do because I’m his dad (lost Kelly a long time ago on this matter). I’m excited to teach him things I do know, and learn new things about myself. I’m excited to figure out the most important things and make sure Baby R grows up knowing that. I’m excited to be a coach, to golf with him someday, and to beat him at every sport for at least 12 years.

So, bring on the dadbod, sleepless nights, coordinating outfits, bottle bags, and trying to get a run in when Baby R is sleeping. Bring on the next chapter and here’s to it being the best one yet!

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32 Things I’ve Learned in 32 Years

First of all, I should have written this post yesterday (on my birthday), but the fact that I didn’t takes me right into one of the most important things I’ve learned in 32 years…

(1) don’t procrastinate

It’s easy to put things off, start something difficult after the weekend, or wait to really dive in until you’ve solidified a plan of action, but the truth is, it’s best to start something now and figure it out along the way. Speaking of starting now and not waiting,

(2) eat healthy NOW, (3) make exercise a priority, (4) find a hobby that keeps you fit, (5) go to bed early and get good sleep

I think this is something I figured out closer to my 30’s and I wish I would have put more effort toward it in my teens and 20’s. I put a lot of stock into the present when I was younger, but as I got older I began to see the value in banking good habits for my future.

(6) money is important, (7) money is not as important as happiness

I have friends that place very little value on money, which I can’t fully get behind. However, they do seem very happy, which is more important than money. While money sets a floor for what you can do and where you can go in life, don’t let it be the driver for what it is you do in life.

(8) dogs are awesome

They just are. You get to give them voices and nick names and personalities and watch them chase birds and steal your girl’s heart and steal your heart.

(9) dogs are ass holes

You also get to see them lick their butt, let your girl tell you, “you’d do it too if you could,” have a discussion about how you wouldn’t even if you could, secretly question if you believe that or not, and have to see your bathroom trash get eaten every time you forget to shut the door.

(10) babies are scary

Get back with me in a year and I’ll confirm this, but between money and caring for a human life, which rumor has it is more difficult that caring for a dog’s life, it can be scary.

(11) Sports fandom is weird

The Lions will never win the Super Bowl… and I question if they will win another playoff game in my lifetime. It’s so stupid that a sports team can upset me so much or make me so happy, but it does.

(12) find your person

I think I’ve maybe said this before on this blog, but before I met Kelly, I thought that I had to be the absolute best version of myself before I could find my person. I had to have the job and be in 10/10 shape and then I would be able to find my person. The truth is, when I accepted that I was OK with myself and allowed myself to find my person, I stated becoming the person I wanted to be. Finding your person has a profound way of improving you and bringing out the best version of yourself.

(13) do what you love

And I don’t mean for a living, although that is a great bonus if you can do that. But, do things you enjoy and that make you smile. For me, I love writing, running, this crazy sport called obstacle course racing… I think there is a fear associated with all those things that when you start, you won’t be good enough or no one cares what you have to say. But, I don’t do those things because I want to impress anyone other than myself (and my wife just a little).

(14) care a little more (15) care a little less

Appearance, health, body odor, showing up on time, replying to texts/emails … care a little more.

Whether or not people like you, whether you look funny trying something new, impressing others, being perfect, looking cool… care a little less.

(16) go places

Literally. Spend a little money and go somewhere new. It will be worth it. Move to Minnesota if you feel like it. Travel to Ireland if you’ve always wanted to go. In 32 years, there has never been a dollar I’ve regretted spending traveling.

(17) go places

Figuratively. Read if that takes your mind off of something stressful. Smoke pot if that relaxes you (as long as you don’t make that the focus…. kids, stay in school). Watch movies, play music, dance, do what you have to do to make the most out of the places you spend the most time.

(18) be nice to people

Being nice is better than being cool, and the sooner you start practicing that, the better off you’ll be.

(19) love your family

There’s a Kacey Musgraves song about family is family whether in church or in prison… it’s the truth. Those people are where you came from and shaped who you are. A big part of loving yourself is loving, or at least accepting, your family (FYI since half of everyone who reads this blog, and 90% of the people who have read this far on this post ARE my family, I love all of you).

(20) enjoy others’ hobbies

This one might sound strange, but take part in your friends’ and family’s hobbies. Let someone else be the expert and feel like they’re teaching you something and they will appreciate you that much more.

(21) audiobooks, man. Audiobooks

You can still say you read the book if you listened to it in the car on the way to vaca.

(22) get a real email

It’s 2017, if you still have an AOL or WOWway email address, you’re not doing it right.

(23) have good shoes

It all starts in your feet people. Bad shoes lead to bad posture, sore knees and ankles, a bad back. It also leads to sloppy appearance. Invest in a good pair of everyday shoes, athletic shoes, work shoes, and going out shoes.

(24) take a look around

Don’t be so focused on your phone. It’s OK to be bored sometimes and not refresh Instagram 26x an hour.

(25) pay attention

I’m kind of listing things as I go, so these aren’t in any sort of order, but this one is important. Pay attention. Pay attention to people, to your body… listen to the wind blowing or some distant train engine and remember how incredible this world is. Batman paid attention, and he turned out pretty good.

(26) be a good example

Someone looks up to you, whether you know it or not. It’s not just your family either. Be the person someone else points to and says, “now that is someone who has it figured out (event if you really don’t).

(27) experiment

I think this word has a negative connotation because if there was a top four list on Family Feud, and Steve said “tell me something you’ve experimented with,” chances are they’d be drug or sex related. That’s not what I mean. Experiment with things to see what you like. Experiment with foods, sports, games, places to live, places to travel, etc.

(28) learn

Learn by reading, listening, watching, feeling, doing, using logic, failing, trying, falling, succeeding.

(29) take things seriously (30) but not too seriously

There is a time and a place for everything. Take the things you care about seriously, but make sure you don’t have just one perspective on anything. Joke with your wife, but follow through on the things she wants.

(31) remember where you came from

Hold on to your memories. Remember your wedding, your grandma’s funeral, your dad’s heart attack. Remember the home run you hit when you were nine years old and watched your dad flying down the left foul line going after it. Remember as much as you can and tell the people you love about it when they need to hear it. Memories make for the best stories and the best ways to make a point.

(32) look ahead

Bringing it full circle, now. Everything kind of leads to this, right? The reason we eat right and exercise, the reason we listen and learn, and the reason we put effort toward the important things is because we need to always be looking ahead. After 32 years, it’s easy to get caught up in being “old as shit (ah-hem…),” but the truth is there is always so much to look ahead and prepare yourself.

I wish I had some big “lesson learned” message to pass on, but the truth is that I have just as much to learn going forward. I guess the best thing I can say is to not get caught up in numbers, and just take every day as it comes and be present.

Man + Pregnancy = Pregmancy?

Pregnancy for first time parents-to-be is a wonderful time for two people — she gets to learn on the fly how to literally grow a human and he gets to do everything he can to try and create some kind of balance to what she’s doing (as if making a grocery run at 8:00 p.m. is some kind of contribution to the child). I think that when Kelly and I decided we were ready to have a child, one thing that I didn’t play out in my head was the pregnancy process.

At this point of writing this, there is a little part of my brain cautioning me to be careful with how I approach what I think I am going to try to say in this blog.

First of all, you always hear about the difficulties of having children.

  • You’ll get no sleep
  • You can’t imagine the amount of laundry you end up doing
  • Keep your mouth closed if you are changing a baby boy’s diaper
  • Poop

What you rarely hear about are the things you experience during the pregnancy part. Some things are difficult, some things are misleading, and some things are actually fun/cute. With that in mind, let me hit on a few things I’ve noticed as Kelly and I near the end of our (her) first trimester.

Morning Sickness

I think I saw a quote from Jenny McCarthy about how whoever came up with the term “morning sickness” is full of shit because it lasts all day long — and this is true. One of the most helpless feelings in the world is watching your wife get sick because she can’t tolerate food. And it’s not just the tolerating food part. Sometimes anything can trigger her, from catching a whiff of the dog food to the thought of eating something that made her sick weeks ago. I bought her these flavored rice cakes when she was going through a “bland food only ” phase, and I’m convinced she will have some kind of reflex when she reads this thinking about the one day they made an “encore appearance” in the toilet bowl.

Food in general

I always said before Kelly got pregnant that I would be curious to know what her “pregnancy craving” food would be. I had heard of women who never liked a certain food all of a sudden craving it when they got pregnant.  While there hasn’t been anything out of the ordinary in terms of cravings, there have been some food things I’ve found funny (little voice in my heard cautioning me to not use the word “funny” — proceeding against my better judgement).

One thing is that after a few days/weeks of not being able to tolerate hardly any food, Kelly found out that egg sandwiches were staying down. There was a period of about a week where we probably had egg sandwiches for breakfast six out of seven days for breakfast, and a few times for dinner as well. It made me laugh to see three dozen eggs in a fridge for two people who would be going to the grocery store in a week, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Emotionalism

I’ve witnessed my wife cry during America’s got talent, the PGA Tour, and possibly a Wal-Mart commercial in the past two months. I can’t help but laugh (in a good way!) at how connected she is to everything it seems like. I don’t think I realized how different this aspect of her pregnancy. Now, there have been times where she’s admitted to an ounce or two of annoyance toward me, sometimes for good reason and other times for….good reason. But all in all, I think the change in emotion as been something that has surprised me thus far.

Guilt

I have genuine guilt when she is in pain and I can’t “fix” her. Even before we got pregnant, I had a hard time with allowing Kelly to vent to me about something. I didn’t have a hard time because of anything she said, but because my natural reaction is to try to fix the problem. She’s told me more than once (but less than, let’s say, 45 times) that she doesn’t always need me to fix her problem, but to just let her complain, or to let her be upset.

But, when she is in real pain or can’t eat because, I feel guilty that she is suffering and I am able to run or eat whatever I want, or feed the dog even. I know she doesn’t want me to feel guilty (at least not ALL the time), but it’s been something that is hard to shake and I still want to “fix” whatever her problem. We both know there isn’t anything I can do, but I need to learn to just listen better and not try to find a solution.

There is a lot more than just these things, but we’re only 1/3 of the way done and I’m sure there will be many more lessons learned in the coming months.

Why I’ll be more Mindful in 2017

First of all, hi! How are you? It’s been almost two months since we’ve last spoke and we should catch up! Is that thing you were working on last year still going OK? Is your pet/sibling still sick/crazy/asking you for money? How’s that rash you couldn’t get rid of?

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Anyway, feel free to stop reading if this becomes too “New Years Resolution-y.” It’s only been five days since the new year, but I am already over it so if this comes across like I am making fake promises, feel free to refresh your newsfeed or see if anyone has posted something new on Instagram (they have).

Last night, my wife and I watched a Netflix documentary about minimizing the amount of stuff you have in order to get the most out of relationships and the things you choose to keep. It was one of those documentaries where you might decide it’s time to up and move to a tiny home, whereas I might think I should turn my phone off sometimes — I’m not sure if this was the filmmakers intention but it was thought provoking.

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There was one scene where some secondary interviewee character was talking about how us being so connected to our phones keeps us from every being able to go on thought-tangents (not sure if that was his phrase or if I just made that up, but I like it). He said even when our phones are on silent or vibrate, we could be thinking and as soon as our phones buzz or screens light up, it breaks our concentration, if only for a split second, but that break in thought keeps us from really being able to have deep thoughts on things. The same way CNN has to flash 147 graphics on the screen at one time, our brains have been conditioned to check email, Instagram, Facebook, refresh 7x, check email again, Snapchat, etc. etc. etc. I’m guilty of it too, but it makes me want to be more mindful of my thoughts, my actions, and my ambitions.

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I have to credit my wife because she kind of began this discussion. We were right in the middle of the documentary and kind of had this passing discussion before getting back to the show (she kind of phrased it funny, which I’ll spare her because the idea she had inspired this post). I do really think it’s true though. I think people are far less mindful today than ever before. The things we consume on a daily basis is cheap and doesn’t add any value to our lives. We should be better intentioned about the things we want to do and how we will go about doing them. Too often, we are content with just refreshing our newsfeeds every week and running in place while we dream about moving forward.

So, my goal (not resolution) is to do things with purpose this year (and every year thereafter). I want to read with the intention of learning something. I want to write with the intention of improving. I want to think without distraction and act with purpose. I want to work toward goals instead of adjust expectations as another month goes by and nothing has changed.

I think we all want to be the best versions of ourselves, and to be more mindful of the things we’re after in life is the only way to turn dreams into goals and goals into expectations.

 

Most of what we learn, we learn indirectly

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The title of this post is a quote from Randy Pausch’s final lecture titled Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams at Carnegie Mellon University. In August 2007, he was given 3-6 months to live (pancreatic cancer) and he gave his final lecture in September 2007.

After the lecture, he received such a positive response that he uploaded the 140 page slide and allowed anyone to use it (so long as they don’t stand to profit monetarily from it) however they want. I also think there is a video of the 76 minute lecture online, but I haven’t listened to it (yet).

Randy died in January 2008.

I’m not going to get too deep into what I took away from looking through the slides, but there were a few things that choked me up and a few things I found to be really insightful (yadda yadda yadda, blogworthy).

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The first thing that really spoke to me was the line”most of what we learn, we learn indirectly.” I think today, people try to absorb as much information as they can by watching videos, reading blogs, and pouring over discussion boards on a certain topic.

Last year, I wrote a weekly column for a fantasy football site. The way I got my information wasn’t organic; I mostly tried to force information into my column (square peg, round hole style). I know it wasn’t as good as a lot of the other writers who would watch the games, discuss football with their peers, and have a solid understanding of what might be in store for a particular player the next week.

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The “head fake” is Pausch’s analogy to learning indirectly. In football, the head fake is a way to beat your opponent, but the only way to truly master this move isn’t by studying it, but rather by having played so much football that the move becomes natural.

So when chasing your dreams, the best way to go about it isn’t by reading a thousand books on how to become an entrepreneur, but by putting yourself out in the world and doing it (ie- trial and error ie- thrown into the fire).

If you want to do something, go do it. Fail at it. Get laughed at. Make a mistake, it’s OK. The point is, you have to take a chance. No one that’s ever chased their dream ever regretted fumbling over something along the way. They might regret a choice they made somewhere between there and here, but I bet you 100% of those people are glad they gave themselves the opportunity to make that choice instead of playing it safe and letting someone else take whatever it is they want.

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Another slide that spoke to me had a few bullets, but the first two really stood out. “Be good at something: it makes you valuable” and “Work hard… ‘what’s your secret?'”

“Valuable” is a term that is rarely applied to a person, unless in the sense of one’s place in a company (which I guess applies, but I digress). I really like the idea of being valuable, not to a business, but to your friends, to society, and to your place in terms of reaching your goals. There is an expression that says (paraphrasing), “figure out what you want to do and go do it.” That might be an Avett Brothers lyric….not sure. I would take this a step further and say, “Figure out what you want to do and go do it…and be good at it.” (I’ll streamline that before I make T-shirts, I promise).

The second bullet, “Work hard… ‘what’s your secret?’,” to me speaks to perseverance. (Grammar people, was that secret?’,” the right way to do that. I can’t imagine it is, but to me, it logically makes sense…)

Get back on topic.

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So finding your secret is kind of that magic thing that keeps you going. I think it means working hard…at the right thing.

For example: I have been writing for Sports Monte (other blog) for about a year and a half with the intention of becoming a big time fantasy sports writer and influences. I worked hard writing and researching every week, but I spent very little time learning what things make the great writers in that industry stand out. I was headstrong and believed that as long as I work hard, good things would follow.

While this works in some cases, it doesn’t work in most cases. You need direction when you work hard and a support system of people who aren’t afraid to critique what it is you’re doing. Working hard without direction is like digging a hole without having the foresight to know you need a rope in the hole with you to climb out.

Pausch died and left an unbelievable legacy. I would encourage anyone who is feeling in a rut to at least look up his slides (easy enough to find online). Maybe I’ll follow up with this once I listen to the lecture, and hopefully I’m not too far off base with how I interpreted his presentation. The long and short of it all, boys and girls, is that if you are going to catch a dream, whether you’re six or sixty, start making the right moves that will get you on the right path to achieving that dream.

 

 

How to overcome lacking creativity

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Yesterday, I was supposed to write a little doo-dad about Sweat Local Columbus, my wife and I’s (<– grammatically correct BTW) fitness journey, and a little more about ourselves for the blog, Columbus Families. The day before, my wife asked me to write it because, well, writing is kind of my thing. This was supposed to be a short piece (not exactly my forte, but not something I should struggled with) and something that would hit home with some of the readers.

So I wrote the piece.

I wrote the piece and it read like a high school essay.

“My name is Ryan Rauch and today I would like to tell you about why I think health is important. Health is important because it gives me the energy I need to accomplish my goals. I also like nutrition. Nutrition, according to wikopedia.com, is the….”

That wasn’t really what I wrote, but it may as well have been. I talked to Kelly on the way home and she told me it was boring and that she’d have to edit it and rewrite it.

It felt like she was spotting me at the gym.

“Here, babe, let me help you pick up that big heavy weight. You just got get a towel and a big drink of water…”

I couldn’t argue with her; I knew it was bad and I know I could do better.

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So I started working through my head as to why I couldn’t come up with anything better than some generic B-copy version of something that, of all things, I really do like and care about. I think it all starts with lacking creativity.

I think most writers probably deal with this on a regular basis. I think that overcoming a lack of creativity has to start with self critiquing oneself (call it soul searching if you want, but don’t allow yourself to excuse anything). It’s basically problem solving, right? The big difference is that I’m not really looking for a solution. Creativity isn’t like math, it’s like science: the solution can always be improved upon and can always be made better.

If I’m honest with myself as a writer, my strength isn’t writing straight forward content. I think the things I like most and I believe that people enjoy about my writing is my ability to write like I think, and to allow my personality to come through in my work. When I try to do something that doesn’t sound like me, it won’t read well to anyone that sees it.

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So here’s my plan.

Step one: write this blog. (Check)

Step two: rewrite the piece for Columbus Families, even if it’s already published (who cares if it doesn’t get published, I am going to write it the way I should have written it the first time)

Step three: celebrate because it’s Friday and I am pouring beer for my favorite brewery at Powell Fest tonight. (because if all else fails, I’ll find a little creativity at the bottom of a double IPA or two)

 

Humble Brag – Props to my Wife

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I don’t want to steal any thunder from my wife who, today, quit her corporate job and is officially *dramatic music* “self-employed.” In fact, she just texted me that she told her boss (something she’s been dreading for…well, as long as she’s had it in her mind to quit I guess). I hope she will go into more detail in her own blog about her thoughts, struggles, successes, and every emotion in between because it takes a ton of guts to do what she did today.

Kelly has ALWAYS wanted to work for herself. Her parents and her brother all work for themselves and, for as long as I’ve known her, Kelly has been envious and dreamed of doing the same thing. About a year ago, she started doing some freelance social media and event planning for a couple of local businesses in the community. Her first (and probably favorite, but don’t tell anyone) was a restaurant we already liked going to that was near our house. That first day, she just went up to the owner, more-or-less bluntly asked if she needed any marketing help, and was surprised that she did and was happy to pay Kelly (at the time) a good amount of money for her to take over her social media and put on a few events at the restaurant.

It’s exciting for me to see how far she’s come with everything. Since she started with the social and events, she taught herself graphic design and also how to build websites. She can now charge 3x what she did just one year ago, and I think she’s beginning to realize that the work she does is worth more than that even.

I think a lot of people in my position would be scared to have their wife do what Kelly is doing. She and I basically brought home the same amount of money before this, so the security of knowing what the paycheck was going to be 3, 6, 12 months from now was a comfortable way to plan for the things we want to buy and the places we want to go.

The thing is, having seen how far she’s come and having heard how much her clients appreciate her work, I am excited about the prospect of what her working for herself will mean for our income (especially if you give her 40+ more hours to focus on everything). I don’t care if we aren’t bringing home what we did for a few months, because I know she’s the kind of person that won’t sit still until she’s where she wants to be. And the exciting thing is, she’s the kind of person that never settles for things being good enough.

I am extremely proud of my wife for having the courage to do what it is she’s wanted to do for a long time. There are a million reasons she shouldn’t have left a good paying job with benefits, but she is putting her happiness first and I believe with my whole heart that there are much bigger things in our future because she has the courage and vision to bet on herself. There is not a bone in my body that second guesses that this is the right thing to do and that she’s making the right decision.