Big Announcement!!!

I've got an announcement of the big and honkin' variety! 

I've got a new way to stay in touch with all of y'all! Every Wednesday, stay tuned for "Coach Ryan's Corner." It's a weekly look inside Team Ryan Coaching as well as goings on with Coach Ryan himself (That'd be me. Natch.)

There are two ways to sign up:

  1. Hit this link: http://www.team-ryan.team/coachryanscorner/ and simply fill out the information. That's it. You won't get inundated with emails every day - just once a week.
  2. This one's easy, y'all. Text "TEAMRYAN" to 22828 and follow the simple instructions. Standard text rates apply, of course. 

Also, we've got something HUGE to let you know about. Coming to iTunes VERY soon is a podcast experience that will be - dare I say - Magical. I'm going to be partnering with my very dear friend and fellow coach Emily Perkins of Love Living Holistics to give you a little Magic Time. (Y'all might want to remember Magic Time...I'm just saying. Cuz that's the title, y'all.) More information coming soon. 

May the sweat be with you: Body image breakthrough!

I’ll never forget this little twit. It was in Mr. Hampton’s band room at Eastwood Middle School. I was in 8th grade.

Mr. Hampton was out of the room (as was his wont) and left the class unsupervised. He did that a lot. And that’s when the bullies in my life realty started.

I forget his name, but I’ll never forget his face. Or his condescending voice.

He and a running buddy had been riding me all year. And as I was taught, I chose not to acknowledge it. However, that was the mistake because it just allowed them to have free reign over my self esteem

One day, I snapped.

“Yo, what size bra you wear?” it asked me.

“WHAT WAS THAT?!” I shot back. I got right in his face.

Keep in mind that I hit puberty relatively late and my voice hadn’t dropped to the dulcet tone that it currently has.

Predictably, the future felon of America and his running buddy started laughing at me. And I backed down.

He was already six feet tall and towered over me. So I’d probably have gotten roasted if it escalated.

I’m glad I can’t remember his name. Keeps me from roasting him on the internet and doing neither one of us any good.

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t struggle with my body image. I have never liked the way I looked in the mirror.

This has affected the way I buy clothes. It’s hindered my dating life to an uncomfortable degree. It’s affected how I take pictures.

It’s negatively affected my life.

Keep in mind, I have also had health issues around my weight. I was on blood pressure medication for many years. I use a CPAP because of sleep apnea. And I haven’t had a girlfriend in almost seven years.

And yes, that’s a health issue.

For the last year, I have been on a mission. I have been on a mission of transformation – mind, body, and soul.

And I have transformed many aspects of my life. I have personal confidence for the first time in a long time – maybe ever. I’m a gifted public speaker. I have relationships on a level deeper that I have ever had before. And I actually enjoy getting out of bed.

But my body transformation, that’s been a different story. It’s been more of a roller coaster than a straight line.

And yes, real transformation isn’t a straight line. It’s a process.

I bring all this up to illustrate a breakthrough I recently had. And damned if it might not be the biggest body image breakthrough I have ever had.

Shout out to my Accomplishment Coaching colleague and friend Alex Terranova and my amazing friend and teammate Emily Perkins for recommending that I try this.

I recently started practicing hot yoga. Particularly Bikram yoga.

For those who don’t know, Bikram yoga is the same 23 moves in the same order. It takes place over 90 minutes.

Oh, and the room is 105 degrees.

Some say you can burn upwards of 1000 calories in a single class. I don’t know how accurate that number is, but I don’t doubt it. Your heart is pounding for the better part of 90 minutes.

You get yourself contorted into shapes that are designed to stretch you in ways that you’re not really supposed to go. But you come out of it feeling energized and relaxed.

Oh, and you sweat. A lot. And that’s kind of an understatement. I lay a towel over my mat and it’s drenched after a class.

These classes attract a lot more men than most yoga classes I’ve done. But there are usually more women in the classes.

Here’s the breakthrough:

The sweat makes shirts a hindrance. You’re in a class with 15-20 people, usually wearing next to nothing. There are various levels of fitness in the room.

It’s not a competition. It’s not a contest. You’re all in there practicing for yourself. I didn’t think the mirrors would be good for me, they’re great for me and my self-esteem.

It doesn’t matter how you look. It didn’t matter that I have extra padding around my midsection and others didn’t. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t go deeper in the moves. I was IN the move.

But you wanna know something awesome? While I have extra padding over my midsection, there were a few moves where…let’s just say I could look in the mirror and count to six.

Well, maybe four. But STILL! They want to come out to play.

There were some moves that I was pulling off that someone who might be 15 years younger and with a way better body were struggling to pull off.

And I can safely say this: I no longer am repulsed by the sight of my body. I know I can do better and that I’m constantly evolving and transforming, but I’m doing pretty damn good now.

And if a woman is turned off by the fact that I have extra pounds, she doesn’t deserve me anyway. If a doctor tells me I need to lose weight, I’ll tell him I’ve already lost 50 pounds in the last year.

It’s not about how you look. It’s about how you feel and who you’re being. And that’s the breakthrough!

Feeling good helps you to look good. And that’s really freakin’ attractive, if I say so myself.

My $.03...Thoughts from a train

I haven’t dropped a Ryan’s Random Ramblings in a while. Y’know, it’s time.

These are just a few of the various and sundry observations I have. Think of Larry King’s old USA Today column, or his twitter. But, y’know, with less randomness.

Here we go.

·      As I have crossed the threshold into 40-somethingism, I notice weird things. I mean, I noticed weird things when I was 12, but it’s getting stranger the older I get. Like, for example, I notice this at the gym. Men are truly bizarre creatures. There’s this one cat who has enough body hair to make George the Animal Steele blush. But here’s the thing…he also looked like George on top of his head. It’s like the hair retreated south to get away from his head.

·      I get the urge on a pretty regular basis to make fun of the accents around here. It’s easy. I notice stereotypes every dang day. But I don’t do it. Y’know why? Cuz I am the foreigner.

·      I am 40 years old and I now own a passport for the first time in my life. And a dear lady friend and I will be using our passports in a matter of a few weeks to visit a mutual friend down in the Cayman Islands. More than moving across country, no longer being in the south, and truly living on my own for the first time in my life – the first two sentences in this paragraph make me feel more like an adult than anything else.

·      Love scares me. It’s disturbing to the level it scares me. I have amazing people in my life who adore me. But love scares me. Because when love comes into my life, that’s when I start to lose people who I love. And I’ve lost too many people I love lately.

·      I am the following:

o   A human being.

o   A man.

o   A warrior for those I love.

o   A warrior for love.

o   A lover.

o   An artist.

o   A writer.

o   An author.

o   A poet.

o   Pete’s human.

o   Bama Born and Bama Bred.

o   The Deacon of the Church of the Crimson Tide, Westchester County Chapter.

o   Love.

·      And my power isn’t bombastic or loud. My power is a gentle tide.

·      Therefore I relate so deeply to the Wolf. Wolves are powerful but gentle animals. But they are absolutely predators! Don’t you dare get in my way when it comes to the people I love and care for. I will absolutely defend my love for them to the death.

·      My mom once said to me “you have to play the game” socially. I hated that because it didn’t make any sense to me. You must get along to get on – or so I thought. To me, I believe the “game” is being unquestionably and unapologetically authentic. Whole, complete, and powerful. The full expression of who you are is playing the game. I’m not there yet, but there’s still time. And it’s a practice.

"Written in the Stone": Easter Egg

Alone with my thoughts. Alone with the wind rushing by my windshield. Alone with the grinding of rubber on the pavement. Alone with the hum of the engine of my rental car. Alone.

I needed to be alone. I needed the solitude. I needed the time to myself. I needed to show the world that I wasn’t going to be taken apart by my circumstances.

I know that a lot of people were going to be asking about me. Asking “what happened to Ethan?” You know what, let ‘em. I don’t give a damn.

I couldn’t help but think that God was allowing my life to fall apart. From that pit of inhumanity in the desert, to allowing my baby sister to get sideswiped by that...that...

Dammit, this isn’t right. I’m a good guy. I’m a good person who deserves better than what I have. I’m better than my results and the world’s just going to have to accept that.

As I pull up to a red light, I look across at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. For the area, the church was quite ornate. A single spire and steeple extended toward the heavens. Remarkable stained glass windows dot the outside of the church facade. 

St. Luke’s will be the site of the fun tomorrow. I know I can’t wait to hear Dr. Duncan say the words “Gina Whitehead was...”

As I notice the sun start to peek behind the horizon, I can’t remember how long I’ve been driving. It’s irrelevant at this point because I’ve spent the better part of the last week inside transportation of some sort.

But something grabbed me. Something in my soul grabbed me.

I look over at my right and I see the lake. George Palmer Lake, all 45 thousand acres of her. The setting sun is beaming off the water.

I make a right turn and go down to the water’s edge. I then get out and sit down on the bank. The water laps at my feet and I feel a surge of something I couldn’t explain.

“You really are an asshole, you know that?” I said out loud. I was pretty sure I was alone so that I could have an abrupt conversation with God...or at least what I thought He still was. Hell, I was probably about to just talk out loud and look like a total fool doing so. But I’m so far past the point of giving a flying damn that I’m just going to go with it.

“I’m serious, you’re an asshole. You’re an asshole who’s trying to get me to stop believing. Well you know what asshole, it’s working. What kind of loving God would leave me to die in the middle of the desert? To say nothing of what you did to Amir! You’re just a thug! I’m doing my best down here and you’re trying to kill everything and everyone I love!” 

My blood was boiling. My heart was pounding. This was a long time coming.

“What the hell was Gina? You’re killing me! Hell, I wish you would! I feel like I’m being used as a pawn in your sick little game. What’s this loving God I was told about all during my childhood - Jesus loves me and all this bullshit! Gina was getting her life together! Yeah she made mistakes - we all do you smartass! But you cut her down just when she’s getting her shit together? Seriously, man! You’re just a bully. You’re that kid in the playground who grabs your wrist and makes you smack yourself in the face. ‘Why are you hitting yourself?’”

I must’ve gone on for 15-20 minutes. I don’t even remember half of what I said because it all became a blur. But I was so worked up that I couldn’t see straight. I had to close strong though.

“Go fuck yourself. I’m done with you.”

Man I felt such a relief getting through with that. None of it was planned but it all came from the heart.

The strangest thing just happened. Through my anger, my rage, and my tears I look on the ground and see something that totally took my breath away.

It was a tiny brown and black bunny rabbit. He wasn’t bothering me. He was just sitting on his back legs surveying his territory. Not minding anyone.

I made eye contact with him and that spooked him away.

And that wasn’t the most breathtaking thing that happened here.

A frog started to croak. Of course I’m by a body of water where frogs like to live so I didn’t think anything of it.

But another one started up.

And another.

Yet another.

And so forth until there must’ve been 50-100 frogs all going at once. The damndest thing about that was...it felt like they were applauding me.

Why? What did I do? I just cursed God so hard and fast that I’m sure I secured my spot in eternal damnation. But the way it felt, I don’t think it was a bad thing what I did.

It was remarkably freeing and liberating. I should curse Him out more often. I’m sure He’s cutting me some slack because of circumstances.

“There you are!”

I look behind me and see Jill and dad making time over to where I am.

“God, son. We’ve been worried sick about you!” Dad said.

“Are you alright?” Jill asks.

All I could do was pull both of them into a big hug.

“C’mon, let’s take you home,” Dad said.

“What about my...”

Jill dutifully holds her hand out. Instinctively I knew to hand her the keys to my rental car.

The Chapter is Complete

Dear Team Ryan,

This is the season of transformation. This is the season of change. And this is the season of gratitude.

I mean, every day is the season of gratitude, but especially now so.

My time as a resident of Alabama is coming to a close. While I look back at this time in my life with fondness, wistfulness, and love – this is the time I have been looking forward to for the better part of 16 years.

I became very present to something recently. My life has never been of my own choosing. I have been at the effect of my circumstances for way too long. The least of which has been the fact that I’m that I feel like I’m running out the clock on a life that isn’t worthy of me.

I’m almost 40 years old. I have two careers that I adore. I have developed relationships with people deeper than I have ever before. And I’m grateful for them all.

But there are so many possibilities of my move. The possibility of connecting with my coaching community and the vibrant New York area literary community. The possibility of culture a mere subway ride away. More possibility of finding that once in a lifetime love. And the possibility of fatherhood.

I’m looking to set up the next 40 years of my life with power, purpose, and love. To do that, one must step outside of their comfort zone.

That’s what I’m doing with this move. I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone for the first time in my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I am terrified. I’m terrified that I’m going to get up there and fail harder than anyone has failed before. I’m terrified that I’m going to be constantly homesick. And I’m terrified that I’m going to make the biggest mistake of my life.

But I refuse to be that guy in the nursing home talking about “I could’ve been great.”

My chapter as an Alabamian is coming to a close. But the story never ends.

Until the ballad of Ryan Hall is complete, I will always see Alabama fondly:

  • 4/27 will always be a sacred day to me.
  • The heartbreak of the losses in my life will always be with me.
  • The pride of seeing my dad on TV promoting something with Tony’s.
  • This will always be where I fell in love with language.
  • This will always be where – thanks to my mom – I fell in love with serving my fellow human beings.
  • And the first five notes of the greatest fight song in college sports will always take me back to the corner of Bryant Drive and Wallace Wade Boulevard. It doesn’t matter where I lay my head.

And many, many more.

My mom used to call me a late bloomer. And I used to hate it every time she did so.

But I believe it wholeheartedly now. I believe that the sapling that was planted here will grow to a redwood in the Big Apple.

Make no mistake about it, while my body may no longer be in Alabama, my heart will remain. And you know what they say about homes and hearts, right?

To my friends and family:

This is not an ending, but a new beginning. I am not disappearing, but growing. I need your love and support now more than ever. I love and cherish each and every one of you and I pray that things blossom and develop to a level never before seen. I wish nothing but love, success, and growth for every one of you.

In closing, I know I say this in a Crimson and White context. But I mean it from the very depths of my soul. I am Bama Born. I am Bama Bred. And when the Good Lord calls me home, when I die, I’ll be Bama Dead.

With love, gratitude, and pride,

Ryan

PS. Y’all will always be in my vocabulary!

PPS. I’m bringing some Southern Charm to the Big Apple and I cannot wait!

PPPS. I’m still scared, though.

 

"This Brother is Free" - my look at "Deacon Blues"

Aja (1977) is my favorite Steely Dan album. I believe I have called it their magnum opus before.

While I love the entire album, there’s one song that has become my theme song, especially in the last year.

Keep in mind, my Dad was the Steely Dan aficionado. But I too am a huge fan.

Deacon Blues has become my theme song. Almost a mantra, if you will. And it’s not because it name checks the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The narrator of the song is a man who has seemingly given up on life. He had dreams, but he always seemed to be looking from the outside, in.

“It seems like only yesterday
I gazed through the glass
At ramblers, wild gamblers
That's all in the past”

 

But has he really given up? Has he really chosen to forget about his dreams?

“You call me a fool
You say it's a crazy scheme
This one's for real
I already bought the dream”

 

He has no support. He has no cheerleaders. They think he’s crazy. He wants to be a sax man, but they know he can’t play.

The life of a musician is romantic to him. Rising when the sun goes down.

But finally, he finds passion. He finds the love of what he wants he wants to do.

Bur here’s the line that got me. This is why that song means so much.

“This brother is free

I’ll be what I want to be”

Folks, this is why I’m moving. This is why I’m uprooting my life and becoming a New Yorker. This is why I have done a year of transformational work – which will continue. This is why I’m working on another novel. I want to set up the next 35-40 years of my life with power, purpose and ease.

I want to live. This brother wants to be free.

Thanks for indulging this nerdy look at one of my favorite songs. I may be doing more of this. I’m a nerd about literature, and a great song is most certainly literature.

From the cul-de-sac to the Big Apple

Today is February 8th. On this day in 2009, Ann Hall left her body and moved onto the next realm.

For the longest time, I carried a lot of anger and angst around how she passed away. I saw it as selfish and self-centered and it took a while to get around that.

And while I still regret how she went out, I’ve been filled with a different emotion lately.

The seeds of the man I am today were planted in that little white house on the cul-de-sac in Tuscaloosa. The boy that Ann and Tony raised became the man I have become (and am still becoming) today.

Mom had the heart of a teacher. But even more than that, she had a heart for service. She was never more in her element than when she was serving others.

Case in point, I wouldn’t have fallen so deeply in love with language and story if it wasn’t for her. I can’t tell you the amount of time she spent with me: workshopping, brainstorming, and helping me compose the first story I ever wrote. And I guarantee you that if Monkeytown never existed, then Written in the Stone wouldn’t have existed.

On top of the way she showed me the love of language, I believe the seeds of Coach Ryan began were planted in that little white house as well.

In 1974, the federal government funded RISE – a school model for special needs children. At the University of Alabama, they got notoriety – and an influx of money – when Gene Stallings was the Crimson Tide’s football coach. Special needs children are a special cause for him as his son had Down Syndrome.

This is taken from the Rise School website:

“Located in one room of a house on the campus of The University of Alabama, Rise served 6 young children with a staff that consisted of a teacher, a teacher assistant and a family service coordinator.”

Ann Hall was that teacher assistant.

Mom always had a soft spot in her heart for special needs children. But she had an even softer spot for giving back and being of service.

It reminds me of why I became a coach. My biggest “what for” is to give back the gift that coaching has been to my life.

Someone said something to me today that knocked me out. I reflected all this to her – Monkeytown and RISE.

“Maybe your path today was secretly her dream for you.”

The chills ran down places I didn’t know I had!

A few weeks ago, at the graduation dinner for Accomplishment Coaching, I had a moment. I shared in the restaurant a story about my dad. Granted, it was through great emotion, but I shared it.

And it was at that moment, I could almost make them out in the back of the room. I could almost make out mom and dad in the back of the room.

 

Mom,

 

He’s doing it. Your Ry-Ry is changing the world. And he’s changing the world because you showed him how.

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t want to pick up the phone and call you guys. But I know you guys have the best seats.

I may be a late bloomer, but even the mighty redwood had to start as a sapling.

I’m becoming a redwood. And it started when I was a sapling in that little white house on the cul-de-sac in Tuscaloosa.

I love you! I miss you! And I’m not stopping!

 

Ryan

The best is yet to come

Monday, December 19, 2016

 

Dear Team Ryan,

I write to you today from a place of relief. From a place of growth. And from a place of OMGWTFBBQIACTUALLYDIDTHAT?!

This past February, I embarked on a journey. I joined the coach training program with Accomplishment Coaching. It’s a yearlong program and we just finished month 11.

That was final exam weekend. We had an oral final plus a written final. I was dead convinced that I tanked my oral but passed my written with no problem. But to my great surprise, I passed both!

This program is not cheap. This program is not easy. This program isn’t for the faint of heart.

But I am the strongest version of myself that I have ever been. I’m ready to crush my New York goals like…well…someone who crushes things.

To those of you reading this, you’re Team Ryan. Some of you have been there since day one – literally. Some of have been there for me during some really dark times. And some of you have been there for me just recently.

My gratitude seems insufficient to express how I feel. Thank you for supporting and loving me and keeping my eyes on the prize.

The prize is there. The brass ring is in my hand. And I’m going to put it in my pocket!

I love you all! The best is yet to come!

With love and gratitude,

Ryan D. Hall – Author/Creative Empowerment Coac