Thoughts on Walter Becker - let me tell you about a major dude

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I believe the date was January 10, 2010.

I still believe that 2009 was the most challenging year of my life. In January of that year, I was rejected for a promotion at my old call center job that I was immensely and imminently qualified. In July of that year, I suffered my life-threatening illness.

Of course, in February, I saw my mom pass away.

Starting in September, a workman-like group of Football players started doing something spectacular. They started winning every game they played.

The 2009 Alabama Crimson Tide will go down as my favorite Bama team of all time. They went 14-0, won the SEC championship, Mark Ingram won Bama’s first ever Heisman, and they went out and won their 13th national championship.

After I got home from Dad’s place after watching Bama finish off the Texas Longhorns, I did three things.

·      I poured myself a drink – Jack Daniels on the Rocks.

·      I pressed play on Steely Dan’s iconic song Deacon Blues.

·      I cried.

July 8, 2015

2015 was a terribly challenging year for me. I lost my dad the previous December. I felt lost, lonely, and unsupported by all but a few.

July 8 was a Wednesday. I’d just finished a coaching call when Pete started barking. I looked up and saw the UPS driver drive away.

He left a small brown package at my door. The return address was from an up-and-coming website called amazon.com.

I knew what it was, but I could hardly believe it. I held in my hands an actual copy of Written in the Stone. A 30-year dream just came true.

I did two things after I opened that book.

·      I pressed play on Deacon Blues.

·      I cried.

I forget the date, but it was December of 2016.

It was finals weekend for my Coach Training program. And to my utter shock and disbelief, I passed both my written and oral finals.

I’m walking down the waterfront in Downtown Manhattan. I’m listening to random music and something calls to me. I’m pretty sure the voice was that of my dad.

Deacon Blues…”

I did three things.

·      I pressed play on Deacon Blues.

·      I’m walking down the waterfront and singing the chorus at the top of my lungs.

·      I’m crying my eyes out.

Why do I bring up these three stories with this song?

Deacon Blues has that iconic refrain of “They call Alabama the Crimson Tide, call me Deacon Blues.”

The song is about a loser named Deacon Blues who wants to do nothing more than live the life of a sax man, and play what he feels. He doesn’t get any support and people tell him he might as well “drink scotch whisky all night long and die behind the wheel.”

When Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were working on that song, Becker came up with the iconic line.

“You mean, it’s like, they call these cracker assholes grandiose names like the Crimson Tide, and I’m this loser so they call me this other grandiose name Deacon Blues?” Becker told Fagen.

We lost Walter Becker on Sunday. He hadn’t been well, but his passing caught me off guard. Becker was a gifted guitarist, bass player, and genius lyricist.

He was only 67 years old – one year older than my dad.

I don’t have to tell you just how much Steely Dan’s music means to me and my healing from losing my dad. Their songs have done more to keep my dad’s spirit alive in my soul more than anything.

Fagen has said that he’s going to keep the music they created alive with his existing band. And for that, I’m terribly grateful.

Walter, I acknowledge your artistry. I acknowledge your love for music. I acknowledge your love for the men and women you play with. And I acknowledge your commitment to the legacy of your creation.

And Walter, there’s one more thing I want you to do for me. A personal favor.

You’ve got a big fan who wants to buy you a shot of that Cuervo Gold. Tony is terribly excited to meet you.

Thank you, Walter. You are and were a major dude. You were the expanding man.

 

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Let Ryan Be Ryan

With apologies to Aaron Sorkin, I need to rant.

 

This is more important than people liking me. I want to speak now!

That’s it! I’ve had it! No more! I’m so done!

I have held my tongue long enough. I’ve kept my cards close to the vest long enough. I can’t take this anymore. I have had enough! I have had absolutely enough!

Let’s keep my mouth shut because nobody gives a damn about what I have to say. That’s the mindset I’ve had long enough.

NO MORE!

I’m serious, I can’t take this anymore.

I have kept a giant in a cage. I have kept my monster on a leash.

It’s time.

It’s time to let the monster free. It’s time to let my monster intellect, my gigantic heart, and my loving soul out of its cage.

It’s time to Let Ryan Be Ryan!

This is a different side of me that nobody has truly seen. But the monster has to run free.

I can’t hold back anymore.

I’m done!

I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore.

I’ve been at a 4 because I never thought anyone cared. I never thought my voice mattered!

But that is bullshit! My voice matters!

My piece on re-shaping the conversation about being a human being after Charlottesville was featured by the Good Men Project.

People hold onto my voice and what I have to say. They hold onto it with every word! I create magic just by walking into a room.

I am a giant among men! And it’s about time the world knows it!

I will no longer keep my opinions silent because I fear they’ll offend. I’ll no longer keep my intellect under wraps because I’m afraid it won’t be appreciated. I will no longer hide my light under a bushel.

It’s time to Let Ryan Be Ryan!

I’m gonna raise the level of inspiration in this world. And let THAT be my legacy!

It’s time to Let Ryan Be Ryan!

If you don’t like that, if you don’t align with that, if you don’t serve at the pleasure of Team Ryan, it’s been nice knowing you. Because way more than you are aligned with this.

It’s time to Let Ryan Be Ryan!

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Hydrating breakthroughs

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Commitments are a tricky thing. As soon as you commit to doing something, it becomes real. And if that commitment is coming from your highest and best self, then that commitment can truly transform the world.

And like many things in this world, commitments aren’t real until you put language and words to them.

Perhaps my highest commitment in my life is the commitment to seeing my universe live big, bold, powerful lives. Intentionally designing a life that lights your fire and that you adore.

That kind of transformation starts from the inside out. To transform the world, you must begin by transforming yourself.

I’ve been seeing a flood of breakthroughs in my life as of late. And simply put, breakthroughs are new ways of being.

Since I intentionally began my transformational journey almost 5 years ago when I began therapy, I have seen the breakthrough as the goal. If I can break through the pain and heartache of my past, that’s the goal.

But I have grown to see breakthroughs as intimidating. And you know something, it’s not serving my highest purpose anymore.

I had a unique shift in this approach just the other day. And the more I think about it, it makes perfect sense.

Breakthroughs hydrate transformation, just like water hydrates the body.

As I’ve mentioned on my blog before, I have recently gotten into practicing bikram yoga. It’s a specialized form of hot yoga practiced in a 104-degree room.

First of all, it’s kind of funny to think that practicing yoga in a sauna is anything short of insane. But I find it a beautiful and soulful practice. I’ve had body image and self-love breakthroughs in that room, perhaps more than I have ever had.

It’s also sweaty as hell.

One of the admonitions I had before I did my first class was that I needed to keep hydrated all day before the class. I’m the kind of guy who always keeps a bottle of water with me. At least a gallon a day.

But I had no idea how much I’d sweat out in one 90-minute class. Let’s just say that a shirt is a hindrance.

After a bikram class, I crave water on a deep level. Also, high water fruits like watermelon.

The water supports me in the breakthroughs I’ve had on that mat.

Finishing the class wasn’t the goal. The breakthrough was in the practice.

{Did I just write that out loud? Me? Empowering practice?! Alan Iverson would be so proud.}

Let’s look at some of the breakthroughs I’ve had recently. And man, have they been huge.

The first one I’d say would be that I’m owning my voice and the power that my voice holds. That in and of itself was a breakthrough.

I could use that breakthrough as the sword of Damocles over my head and be intimidated by it. I could be intimidated by the fact that I have an obligation to speak out about things that disturb me.

Or I could use it as an instrument of peace and good in the world. I could choose to use my voice to speak out about things that disturb me – like, y’know, everything in the news this past week. I could use the power of my voice to find love, to empower my writing, to blow my coaching business sky high, you name it.

In other words, I could use it, or I could let it use me.

I’m choosing to use these breakthroughs to hydrate my life.

Breakthroughs are like fuel. Breakthroughs are like a great meal. Like people use food and water as fuel for their body, I’m going to use breakthroughs to fuel my big, bold, transformed life.

 

I am a king...a tyrant...and a peasant.

I’ve been teasing a big announcement over the past couple weeks. And I’m not going to make this announcement until next week. But I need to share something. I need to unburden myself.

Kings choose to show up as kings. It’s a constant choice because you could easily choose to show up as a tyrant or a peasant at any time.

Perhaps I should distinguish just what a tyrant is and a peasant is.

Tyrants:

·      Tyrants are oblivious to criticism. They don’t believe anything negative about them.

·      Tyrants can be childish. They hold their breath until they turn blue until they get what they want.

·      Tyrants can be arrogant and self-righteous.

 

Peasants:

·      A peasant is obsequious. They are grateful to an obnoxious degree for every bite and every morsel they get. But they don’t believe they deserve anything other than the basics.

·      They’re satisfied with mediocrity and the humdrum.

 

I can say this with certainty. There’s a relationship in my life where I haven’t been a king. I have responded with self-righteousness and obliviousness. I have also grown satisfied with mediocrity and humdrum.

It’s not worthy of me. It’s not worthy of this woman. And it’s not worthy of the life I’m creating.

 

Make no mistake, I am a king. I know my worth. I own my worth. I charge a hell of a lot of tax on my worth. I have passions that turn me on. And I love deeply and unconditionally.

But being a king isn’t easy. Being a king takes constant work on yourself. It’s scary to be a king when we’re usually satisfied with the ordinary and the meh lives we’ve been leading.

My question to you all is this: do you want to be a king? Do you want a life that you love? Do you want a queen? Do you want a career that turns you on? Do you want to live your life as if you’re alive?

 

Being a king takes work. The works is all with yourself.

Are you ready to go deep to create the life you want? Are you ready to create the love and the career you deserve?

Are you ready for a kingdom?

If you are, let’s talk!

 

Ryan.hall@accomplishmentcoaching.com is the email. Send me a message and we can move from there.

 

I am a king. But in this relationship, I have become a bit of a peasant. I’ve also become a bit of a tyrant. And it ends today.

If you’re reading this – and I will be reaching out to you individually – I am sorry. This isn’t worthy of me. It’s not worthy of you. And it’s not worthy of us.

 

Are you ready to work hard on your life? Are you ready for some difficult conversations? Are you ready to be challenged harder than you’ve ever been challenged before?

Hit me up.

 

Let’s be kings!

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.