Dropping action bombs on my writers block

Do you know those people who won’t do anything until it’s been critiqued, analyzed, thought through and figured out twice over, broken down into bite sized pieces and baked up again in a giant idea-casserole?

Hint: who has two thumbs resting on the space bar right now? ME!

My sixth grade band never launched to super stardom because we couldn’t decide the right name that was equally catchy and applicable to a worldwide audience. In fact, we never learned instruments because we ALSO couldn’t settle on who the lead singer should be, or which one of three non-drummers had to play base (they thought I was going to play base? get real Jordan and James).

The point is, I am one of those people that is too afraid to start anything because I always fear the road ahead. I fear wasting time because it’s not done right. I fear that I will get bored and give up, or that I am not good enough for whatever it is that I want to accomplish.

Luckily, I have the greatest wife in the world (you should see her marital trophy case — impressive hardware people). She is the polar opposite of me in this regard and, sometimes to a fault (love you, b) will dive into something head first on a passing whim. Sometimes it drives me crazy, but I love it because 9 times out of 10, she accomplishes whatever it was she wanted to do.

Side note for fun, notable 1/10 failures of hers include:

  • cauliflower-crust pizza
  • indoor plants
  • Running career

I should stop now while I’m not too far behind.

What I’ve learned from her, though, is that in order to accomplish anything, you have to start something. Before I met her, I didn’t have ambition to write anything. I figured I never had a job as a writer so who would hire me? Why would anyone want to read what I had to say? But since she taught me to just start (I think it actually started with this blog), I have written for online publishing companies, a respected fantasy football site, numerous websites, and it’s even led me to what I hope will be more lucrative opportunities in the future.

So, circling the wagon back to now. Sometimes I notice I haven’t written for awhile on this blog, and I try to force myself to come up with something really clever because, well, I’m just certain that everyone remembers the last time I posted and they’re all patiently waiting for something grand from me now. Of course, this isn’t the case.

So, what I want to say in all of this is to just get out and start doing, whatever that means to you. If you aren’t happy with your job, start doing something along the lines of what it is you like doing (assuming you like more than eating, drinking, smoking pot, etc.). It’s more important to get on the path rather than trying to define the path. Once you’re moving, it’s a lot easier to determine the right direction to go.

Trumpelstiltskin

Once upon a time, there was a young girl named America who had a beautiful complexion, long flowing hair, and was always willing to lend a hand to those less fortunate than her. She was known around her friends as someone who would take in strangers who might be in trouble, and even gave money to any of her friends who needed it.

But over time, America became confused. She wasn’t sure who she’d become and had some internal struggles (like many people her age deal with). Sometimes, she would look in the mirror and didn’t even recognize who she’d become.

Eventually, America came to a breaking point, and she was locked up in a giant white house and was that there would be severe consequences unless she make herself great again. She cried and cried because she didn’t know how she could ever make America great again.

Then, one night, a man snuck into the white house and promised America he could make her great again.

“My name is Trumpelstiltskin,” said the man, “and I know exactly how to make America great again.”

America was so emotional that she didn’t think what this might mean, but all she knew was that she wanted to be great and didn’t consider the costs. In return, all she had to do was tell Trumpelstiltskin that what he wanted to do was great. America agreed that if Trumpelstiltskin would make her great again, she would look the other way on anything he said or did.

And so Trumpelstiltskin left, and the next day America saw him on the news. He said all sorts of crazy things, was rude to people America once considered friends. She wanted to call her friends and tell them she really wasn’t like that, but since she made a promise to Trumpelstiltskin, she had to go along with the things she said. America hear rumors that her friends didn’t like her as much, but since she believed that this was the only way she might ever become great again, she didn’t say anything.

While she was in the big white house, America had become sick. She used to be healthy and full of life, but recently, some diseases had taken over and made America very ill. Her doctor told her that she had some preexisting conditions that made some of her cells work against her.

“Your cells are like terrorists,” the doctor said. “You’ve always had them, but because you’ve neglected them for so long, they are not fighting against you. There have also been some foreign diseases that have terrorized your body. I think that both your internal cells, as well as the foreign diseases, are keeping you sick.”

The doctor left and America became very sad. How could her own cells fight against her, and why wasn’t her body figuring out why they were fighting against her and adjust so that she could become healthy again? She thought the best way to get healthy was to fix her internal issues, then she could figure out a way to combat those foreign diseases that might be troubling her. She fell asleep without a solution.

In the middle of the night, Trumpelstiltskin returned. She told him how sick she’d become, and how she hasn’t felt like herself in a long time. She used to be so happy and healthy, but then her body began to turn against her. Once again, Trumpelstiltskin promised he had the answer, and he’d fix her in exchange for not questioning his methods. Reluctantly, America agreed.

“Your problem,” Trumpelstiltskin explained, “isn’t that your cells are working against you. Most of your cells are great. The problem is those foreign diseases have been terrorizing you for years. Your cells and body are totally fine. The charts that doctor showed you were fake charts. And the results were fake results. The real issue is those foreign diseases.”

America shrugged, because if everything all of her doctors were ever showing her were fake charts with fake results, maybe it was the foreign diseases that were accounting for all of her issues. America looked out the window, and the gate around the big white house that used to have open doors and open gates, all of a sudden were closed. And on top of that, Trumpelstiltskin was building a huge wall around the gate so that no one else could come in.

“This will protect you,” Trumpelstiltskin said to America.

America wasn’t sure because she thought, surely someone can figure out a way to get around a wall if they really wanted to hurt her, but then she remembered she couldn’t question his methods and she also had to look the other way on anything he said or did. America was very confused and began questioning Trumpelstiltskin, but since she wasn’t able to think of any better solutions, she let him go about building his wall. After all, she couldn’t prove that the charts and tests weren’t fake charts and tests, so maybe Trumpelstiltskin was telling her the truth?

A few weeks had passed, and America was still sick and still didn’t feel great. She began wondering if she should have listened to Trumpelstiltskin in the first place. She liked the things he said to her a long time ago, but as soon as she agreed to let him make America great again, she couldn’t help but question just about everything he was doing. America began to get angry, both at herself and at Trumpelstiltskin. She knew that she had good inside of her, and that the only way she would fix herself and make herself great again was by her own actions, not the actions of someone who made promises but didn’t show any follow through. As her rage grew, Trumpelstiltskin appeared one last time.

“I know how you feel,” Trumpelstiltskin told America. “My whole life, people questioned the things I did, said, and tweeted. Then, I figured out that if you just keep saying things, whether they’re real or not, people will believe you. You just have to put down anyone who…”

As Trumpelstiltskin continued talking, America looked over his shoulder at the TV that showed some of her old friends crying because they couldn’t come and see her anymore. She saw the wall from her room in the big white house that was supposed to keep her safe, but she still felt sick and broken. She looked down at Trumpelstiltskin, who seemed much smaller than he did the first time he came to see her.

“…which is why you just need to give it time. You just have to believe me that we are making you great again and fixing all your problems.”

“I’ve always had issues,” America snapped. “I’ve always been a little broken, but the things that make me sick sometimes are also the things that give me the most strength. I might not be the best I’ve ever been, but the one thing I won’t do is change who I am because of it. I am at my best when I am supported by those who appreciate me for what I am and aren’t trying to change me to fit their idea of what I should be. I am America, and I will be great again, but not because you make me great. I will be great again because I have the strength to make it through times that appear to difficult to overcome. I will be great again because, at my core, I am passionate, driven, and willing to endure hardships because of my beliefs. It might not happen today or tomorrow, but I will be great again, and I don’t need you to show me how to do it.”

Trumpelstiltskin stood there and didn’t know how to react. Everything that he’d been telling America that seemed to have been working no longer worked. He screamed and pounded his fists and demanded that America listen to him, but it was too late. America had decided that she would be better off without Trumpelstiltskin after all, and the future seemed much brighter for her.

The end.

 

 

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.

 

You can only have three hobbies…

Everybody needs three hobbies – one that makes them money, one that keeps them in shape, and one that keeps them creative.

I read this the other day and it kind of struck a chord in me because I’ve always been the guy who tried a little of everything (you should see my plate at Thanksgiving… literally a little of everything!). The thought of only three hobbies is a hard thing to wrap my head around because I spend more time thinking about the things I’d be giving up than I would those things that I would hold on to and keep in my life.

How do I choose between running and Crossfit? One is good for my soul, while the other is giving me some semblance of abs (only visible in the mornings after I dehydrate myself with alcohol the night before).  Likewise, how do I choose between playing guitar and blogging. One is good for my soul, while….well you get the point.

On the other hand, none of my hobbies make me any money, and I would love to begin pouring some of my energy into something that might help me accumulate wealth one day. Everything I have ever done, from marathon training to learning guitar has either taken time or money (usually both) and I never see a return if I look at it like an investment, which it is if you think about it.

Then again, I don’t want my life to be joyless, where every decision I make has to have a dollar sign attached or take me one step closer to something. I think the one thing I’ve always held on to about myself is that most things I do, I do because they make me happy. I think I am done getting tattoos, but if I did ever get another one, it would either be a wedding ring tattoo (unrelated) or something that said “do what makes you happy.”

I think what works for me is to kind of make some creative, executive decisions. For example, instead of choosing between running and crossfit, I can say that the hobby that keeps me in shape is “racing.” Racing requires endurance and cross training, so I can kind of bundle a few things into one larger umbrella of a hobby.

With that being said, these would be my three hobbies that will make me money, keep me in shape, and keep me creative.

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One that makes me money…

Sweat Local Columbus – my wife and I have this really cool thing, and we both want to figure out a way to take this really cool thing and turn it into something that can make us a little money on the side. Who knows, maybe one day we can make a lot of money on the side. We’re still trying to figure out exactly what we can do with it and we’re still trying to figure out the best way we can make it as accessible and worthwhile to the active community in Columbus as we can.

Currently, Kelly IS Sweat Local Columbus. She is the one who has had to shoulder all the work for it and, to be honest, she is much more involved in the fitness community around Columbus than I am. She teaches spinning, knows just about every Yoga studio and instructor that teaches in Columbus, and she is the one who has been making the connections that have helped get Sweat Local Columbus off the ground.

We both know that if Sweat Local Columbus is going to grow into what we want it to be, it is going to take both of us, which means I need to step up and contribute beyond helping set up and clean up at the events we do. So, my new hobby that will make me money, even if it’s in the future and not RIGHT NOW, will be to pour my effort and energy into matching Kelly’s passion for it and see it grow.

RaR

One that keeps me in shape…

Racing – Anyone who knows me knows that this past year I found the sport of obstacle course racing. My wife and I joke about how I ever found this sport, and the truth is I don’t really know. I had done 5K’s and a few distance races since I graduated college, but nothing that wasn’t just running on flat ground for however long. Then, last February, I did a trail run (little different). Then I did a Spartan Race. Then  Kelly was out of town one Saturday, so I drove up and did a Warrior Dash. Then I talked Kelly into doing another Spartan Race with me. Somewhere along the way I qualified for the Obstacle Course Racing World Championship, so last month we drove eight hours up to Canada and I did that.

The point is, I think this is a hobby that is going to stay with me, and one that keeps me in shape. In order to train for these races, I go to Crossfit twice a week to work on my strength and cross training, and I also run twice a week or so to keep my endurance up. Kelly now wants to get a Spinning bike for the house (might be a ploy by her as a way to get me to clean the basement…jury still out on this one), which would also help with my endurance. The long and short of it is that racing, to me, can encompass all of these things but still be “one” hobby.

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One that keeps me creative…

Writing – This one is tough because I feel like if I say writing, then I should consider giving up playing guitar. But, as an executive decision maker in the Ryan Rauch brand, I will allow myself the ability to play a minimal amount (let’s be honest, that’s all I do now anyway) of guitar. But the best way I know to channel my creativity is through my writing, and I would like to develop a voice not just for myself, but be able to cultivate a voice for other brands as well.

I already blog here, you know that, but I also write blog posts for Sweat Local Columbus. They’re fine, but I was to write in a way that is more engaging with an audience. I want to be able to excite people when I write.

Last night, I was talking to Kelly about one of her favorite bloggers (slash Snap Chat follows), and she was talking about a blog post she had written recently that Kelly could relate to every word. I wish I could tell you what the subject was of the blog, but I think I’d be in trouble so I’ll leave that part out. Anyway, I don’t think anyone can really say that about my writing. I think it’s good, but it doesn’t make people say, “every word he wrote was spot on to how I feel.” As soon as I can develop THAT kind of voice, I think I’ll be at a point with my writing where I can genuinely add value to Sweat Local Columbus, or maybe even some Local Anywhere clients!

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With that said, it seems like I won’t have much room in my life for fantasy football, my dog, any sort of chores, my dream of being on the Senior PGA Tour, or anything else that doesn’t help Sweat Local Columbus, my racing career, or my writing… Then again, who doesn’t love a good dog story, and I’m sure 18 holes would improve my shoulder flexibility in a way that might help me on some obstacles.

 

Fill in the Blank: 2017 – The Year of ___

So my wife and I have been doing something fun each of the past two years, and if you read this blog, you know that 2015 was the year of concerts and 2016 was the year of Travel/Yes. We have kind of joked about 2017 being the year of “yes, continued,” but that kind of feels like cheating.

Here’s how the “Year of” works… Basically, anything you want to do within the general parameters of the word or phrase, you get to do without any (too much) fight from the other person.

Example:

Kelly: “What do you think about going up to Pittsburgh for a night, then doing a race there the next day?

Ryan: “OK. Then do you want to go up to Canada the next week for a different race?”

K: “Seems far, but sure! #YoY right?”

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I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how that conversation went down. 2016 ended up being probably the most fun year of my life. We traveled to Grand Cayman, Destin, Ireland, Pittsburgh, and Canada. Toss in a few trips up to Cleveland to see the family and probably one other weekend trip I’m forgetting about.

So 2017 has to be good. I don’t know if it will be able to top 2016, but so far, every year has been better than the one before. I know Kelly and I want to do some more races, and no less than one of us has some big plans for some house updates and projects, but we are otherwise fairly open.

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Maybe 2017 will be the year of business? Kelly and I have committed to refocusing our brands (Sweat Local Columbus, Local Anywhere) to figure out what the best way is to make those two things as successful as possible. We have had some high’s and low’s on both of those fronts, but I think we’re starting to figure out what does and doesn’t work and will attack both of those next year with more passion and purpose.

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Or maybe 2017 will be the year of fitness. I think having had a taste of what the OCR world can offer, I love the idea of (broken record word of the day) focusing my training so that I can be a better racer. I think Kelly and I are both learning a few things about better ways to eat and train so that we can be the best and healthiest versions of ourselves.

Side conversation – the other day, we had some siding coming off the side of our house. I fixed a piece of it with a ladder, but another piece was up near the top of the house and was too high for me to reach with the ladder. So I went through the bedroom window to the first level of our roof, and was able to Irish Table my way up on to the second level of our roof. I know this level of fitness doesn’t mean a whole lot, like, being able to get up on top of my roof isn’t a reason to get fit, but it makes me feel good knowing that I can. I feel like there is very little I can’t do, which in itself makes me extremely happy.

Or, maybe 2017 will be the year of something much more significant. Whatever the case, I’m open to suggestions and really hope that whatever we decide to do with this upcoming year, it’s as exciting and brings us as much joy as the year of concerts and the year of travel/yes.

Writers Prompt #12: An hour as your 10 year old self

Death_to_stock_photography_Vibrant (10 of 10)

Traveling back to 1995 for an hour would, first of all, mean I get to go back to my Detroit Lions Starter jacket (that I wore in South Florida because when it’s 70 degrees in January, burrrr), Airwalk shoes, fantasizing about the T-shirt wall at Spencers gifts, and checking the value of my baseball card collection in every new edition of Beckett magazine. I’d be checking my pager to see if Zach “911’d” me to get to the basketball court, or if I should go to the aquatic center or the ice rink tonight (because those were the hella dope places to be).

But if I only had an hour to spend, I’d probably leave my Magic the Gathering cards at home, tell Sonic the Hedgehog that he’d have to get those gold rings without me, and I’d call as many friends as I could think of…

Bike gang, y’all!

There was something cool about riding bikes in a group that made me feel cool. I imagine it’s the childhood equivalent of what motorcycle gangs feel like when they ride on Sundays, only we didn’t throw the motorcycle wave around everywhere we went.

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Sup bro? Sup bro? Image courtesy of http://www.motorsport.com

Rival bike gangs were serious business, and if we had to meet at the sandpit for a fight after school next week well that’s just politics.

So if I only had one hour to be 10 years old again, I’d be outside, with friends, doing something that made me feel confident. I don’t think that riding bikes was every my favorite thing to do at the time, but looking back, it was the thing that best defined who I was as a kid. And the best part is, while I don’t ride bikes anymore, being outside with friends doing the things I love to do most is still something that defines who I am as an adult.