|Gifts of Sobriety
|Posted Wednesday, July 04, 2012 in Tags: Life
|Someone asked me recently, what does sobriety give me? My answer, everything - and that's the honest truth. I'm entirely convinced that I would have died if it were not for the gift of sobriety that was given to me.
I will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. No matter how far down the scale I have gone, I will see how our experience can benefit others.
I can't believe it, four years ago today was the day I decided to quit drinking and drugging. Today is the most important day in my entire year because it reminds me of what it was like before and how far I've come. What was I realistically thinking, quitting on July 4th? This used to be THE day for partying! And what the hell, I was only 20 years old I had never even enjoyed a legal drink yet! It seemed as if the odds were stacked against me, but I guess someone up there had bigger plans for me than me continuing to drive my life down the drain. As I look back over the past several years I can honestly say that there has been quite a bit of growth, some slower and some quicker. I'm the type of guy that likes to make every mistake possible, put myself through enough emotional distress until it physically hurts, and learn the hard way. That's how I've always been, even with getting sober. It took me two years of trying to quit before I quit, and almost another year after quitting before the obsession was relieved from me.
I am going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. I will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Before getting sober I imagined life being mundane and I asked myself, "How could I ever have fun, party, or do anything without drinking?" Clearly at that point I was not ready for sobriety. I needed to get sober, but I didn't want it, and quickly there afterward my life began to dwindle down. I vividly remember the good times and how it transitioned into becoming worse and worse. My best friend became my enemy and it eventually lead to a place where I was in complete and utter addiction. Every single time I used it was horrible, leading on for days and days before I could get any rest. Literally every time I used, something bad would happen sometimes worse than others. Near the end I had several cases pending and ended up with one final case that woke me up out of the self-induced fog. I was completely unhappy, I knew a loneliness like no other. I could not survive with a drink, or without a drink; I had no option. At that point, for no motive or reason, I decided to get sober.
Sobriety has gifted me with some of the most amazing things, I remember the first couple months I was literally locked in my house pending court cases. I was completely convinced that I was going to jail, and my life had already been completely controlled by the legal system, but I still continued on my mission for sobriety. I remember the final day in front of the judge where I was released of the bondage of my house arrest. I remember how I used to think it was some sort of curse, but looking back I'm even grateful for those times, as I wonder if I could have even stayed sober if I could have left my house. Nowadays, I have the freedom to go wherever I want without fear of drink or drug. I'm able to maneuver throughout any environment, and when the thought of a drink or a drug enters my mind I recoil from it like a hot flame. I now know a new happiness, a happiness that I have never felt before. I have true happiness and serenity with my life.
I will comprehend the word serenity and I will know peace. My whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
Serenity? Not always. But I can honestly say that I have found a new peace and I have been given tools to help manage stressful situations. People wonder how I'm able to keep coolheaded while managing my companies and it's very simple; I ask for God's help several times throughout the day. Even during the most turbulent times in my personal or business life, I am able to find that serenity or peace within my days. I ask God, "Thy will not mine be done" and I find anxieties almost instantly lifted from me. Sometimes, I have to say that same prayer hundreds of times to realize that maybe it is God's will for me to be going through this anxiety. For me, understanding that it's ok to feel what I'm feeling and have the peace of mind to know that I do not have to medicate feelings or emotions is amazing. That in itself is progress, progress that I would have never even imagined possible before.
That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear. I will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away.
I remember the days where I would wake up about noon, fill myself with a concoction of drugs and alcohol, and attempt to work and end up staring blankly at the screen. I couldn't believe it, I had completely driven my will to work out of me. I was the model businessman, the man that prided himself on working longer and smarter than anyone else. The self-made, self-proclaimed boss of all bosses and I completely rendered myself useless. I remember the dismay that fell over me as I completely just stopped caring about everything that had meant so much for me. But at that point, I was just too far into the hole and I cared about nothing other than more, more, more. I remember back to all the times I would get in trouble, have my parents look at me dead in the eyes and say, "I'm disappointed in you.", the arrests, the thefts, the fights and I'd wonder, why is this happening to me? Why can't I be like the other people that party like I do and don't get in trouble? I honestly believed the delusion that I was drinking and drugging regularly, comparing myself to others around me. I would constantly end up in a bind and wonder why it happened to me. I remember near the end of my using career, when week after week passed and things continued to get worse and worse for me. Crashed cars, arrests, disappointed family, and a final event that rocked my world I couldn't feel sorrier for myself. As I was lifted from the drugs, I was given the option of staying sober an option I never previously had. I was given the option to do right and wrong, a conscious, and I assumed full responsibility for my actions. When things get tough, I don't feel down for myself as I can rely on a higher power to help me through it.
Now not all my actions are self-seeking, I spend time every single week dedicated to passing the message of sobriety on. I need to give what was so freely given to me and that is the cornerstone of my sobriety. It's funny even typing this, helping others was the absolute last motivator on my mind. I've made progress in this category, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. I still find myself, like any human, consumed with the happenings and woes of my daily life. I constantly need to remind myself that I need to help others to get out of the stuff floating around in my head.
I will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
As of lately, to say the least I have been facing problems and situations that would have baffled me. In the last couple months I feel that some of my larger, more glaring character defects have dulled with the emotional pains that I have been through. I've been faced with challenges, losing some of my best friends, and more - all through it I was able to maintain my cool and handle situations one by one. I simply asked for help, and help was given to me - I emerged from some of the most stressful situations I've encountered with ease. Looking back, I'm absolutely astonished that I made it through some of these challenges, and I know that it's a gift of sobriety. Now I have those couple moments to pause before reacting, giving me time to make a formulated and informed response without causing more harm. I can only imagine how I would handle these situations during my drinking career, let alone within my first or second year sober. I remember literally anyone that even subtly didn't like me was instantly attacked. Now, maybe I've grown up a little bit, but I don't have to go to every fight that's presented. This is my favorite gift of sobriety by far.
I honestly just hit the tip of the iceberg with what sobriety has given me, because as I said above - everything that I have now is as a direct result of it. If you or anyone needs help, being sober can be one of the best things for you - it's just making it through those tough times in the beginning that determine the difference. For anyone that's come up from the bottom, they know exactly how hard it can be. Get in contact with someone local to you that's gotten help and is in recovery, it could be your road to a new life!
Money is Not Everything
|Posted Monday, October 03, 2011 in Tags: Make money,Life
|You may think that I'm a living contradiction; from the tweets deep into the night about money, to my wholehearted belief in God, to the gratitude that I have for everything I've been blessed with. The fact is that I am only human, multifaceted with several different parts to me. My girlfriend, the lady I confide most in, tells me it even took her six months to figure me out. There is no one way to categorize myself, and for someone to classify me in any single category would be strongly mistaken. I have a passion for business, I love money, I'm covered in tattoos, I wear business apparel almost every day, I drive fancy cars, and I play RPGs in my free time. Money is not everything, and as you've read before this it's nearly been the death of me.
I had not heard of Don Lapre until his charges of wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy and promotional money laundering were brought up in The Republic of EWA Group. After reading about his charges, the first thought in my head was how greedy and stupid one person could be. As I read more about his history of informercials, I came across a website that he made for himself about how much he loved his family. The website, DonLapre.com, almost seemed like a suicide note and the feelings that overcame me were almost unexplainable. For someone as ruthless as me, I actually sympathized with him. Today, the embattled TV pitchman Don Lapre was found dead of an apparent suicide in his cell Sunday morning. Even though my feelings on suicide are not favorable, it really made me reflect on myself.
About two years ago I was speaking with a close friend and advisor of mine, discussing my day to day activities and he asked me a simple question, "What would happen to you if you lost everything, your business, your money, your livelihood?" At the time, I was taken aback and quickly answered saying that business and money isn't everything to me. As we got off phone, I realized that the truth of the matter was that at the time, money and business was still so important to me it that if I lost it - it would be the demise of me. His challenging question put me deep in thought and actually made me react; I needed to find other things in life. At the time I was 22 years old and I had spent at least 6 years of my life cooped up inside in my nest, building my empire. I had a girlfriend, but I was not ever fully mentally there - business was such a high priority in my life I just didn't care. Hobbies? None - what was the use, I loved business and that was my hobby.
From that moment, even though I had full confidence in myself and my businesses success, I realized that I needed to find more balance in my life. I couldn't be chained to the computer for 18 hours a day for the rest of my life. That night, I had a vision that if I didn't change, I would one day have a wife and kids in a wing of my house while I'm completely locked away from them in an office. I didn't want that and I wanted to be part of life. I needed to make a change in my life. I had put so much time, effort, and passion into my business - wonder if something actually had failed, what would become of me?
I reacted, and started the process of developing a hierarchy of employees in my company. I refined the art, scaled it up, and quickly got to the point where I did not have to be physically running my business to make sure it worked. I had the option of having free time, if I so felt like taking it. I got so good at building an actual business, the day came along where I actually had free time and I was at a complete loss. I was forced to find hobbies of my own, something that took nearly a year to find. As the necessity of my involvement in day to day was lessened, I used the time to develop closer friendships and then one day my girlfriend walked into my life.
For once, I could actually mentally be there for someone. Because I'm still addicted to work, I had to set a decompression time before seeing her and when I was with her it was strictly with her: no business whatsoever. I put a focal point on developing a real relationship with someone, learning from my mistakes in the past - I'm reaping the benefits of that today. As time progressed, the newly found hobbies and friendships started building up a more prevalent role in my life; it gave new meaning to my life. Business and money finally because an aspect of my life, not my entire life - and if I were to lose that I would have self worth.
Even with the newly found balance, I don't think anything is going to get me off this computer. I absolutely love working, interacting with people, and developing businesses. I'm addicted to the hustle and I'm still going to be up working every waking moment. It's my passion, but it's not everything - and that is the point that I'm trying to get at with this post. Clearly, Don Lapre was one of the unfortunate ones to never find the balance in life. Rest in Peace, Don - you will be remembered.
By the Grace of God
|Posted Sunday, July 10, 2011 in Tags: Life
|Around this time of the year I like to make a post about the happenings and goings of my life. By the grace of God I reached three years of sobriety on Independence Day, 2011 and for that I'm eternally grateful. I of all people understand that what I have is a gift, a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of my spiritual condition. Three years ago I would have never imagined even saying words like this, but today I hold these words close to my heart and mind. I tried for two years to get sober with no luck. I thought that I was a man constitutionally incapable of being honest with myself; I thought I was doomed, I had nearly given up.
During these two years I tried every trick in the book to live a normal life. I tried to only use a couple weeks a month, I tried to only drink on the weekends, I left college because people partied too hard there, I didn't drink hard liquor, I only used drugs, I only drank, and the list goes on and on. Every experiment ended with the same result: complete and utter addiction. At my final bottom I was at a point of incomprehensible demoralization with no options left other than dying, going to jail, or changing my entire thought process to try a different way of living.
The amount of ego that I had built up throughout the years of financial success finally had been broken down entirely and there were no options left. My way of life simply was not working, and I had to finally take the suggestions given to me. For a man that thought praying, God and everything associated to it was for inferior people - taking a chance to try this was huge for me. I still remember the first prayer and the amount of resistance I had with it making it: "To whomever is up there, God, if anyone is listening, will you help keep me sober today."
From that day I never took another drink or drug again. Over time, the prayers evolved from a hesitant practice to a close relationship that I actually believed was keeping me sober. For me to stay sober entirely from drugs and alcohol for a week, a month, three months was entirely impossible by myself. I only changed one thing in my attempt at sobriety - prayer. It became completely apparent and real to me that a Higher Power was taking care of me. I still keep this concept fresh in my head - not a day goes by that I don't ask God to help keep me sober and thank him at night. I completely believe that He did for me what I could not do for myself.
The absolute most important part in me staying sober and living a happy life is maintaining and strengthening this connection with God through prayer; by asking for help and thanking him for it. Although I'm not always pleased with what life gives me and I still feel the same pains as everyone else, I keep my trust entirely in God and have faith that he will take care of me. I am truly grateful for every day that I get to wake up on this earth because during my time in sobriety and working with other alcoholics, I've seen so many go that didn't get the chance that I did. For them, I stay sober and try to pass on what has been so freely given to me.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm still an arrogant asshole - but do not mistake that for ingratitude for what I've been blessed with. I've fought my way up from the depths of a living hell and rebuilt what I have now - what can I say, it's hard not to stunt. Everything that I have now: the tools to get through the rough times, loving relationships with people that actually care, material success, and more that I cannot even begin to list has been given to by God - I've just put in the footwork to get it. I've been on both sides of the street, and I can honestly say that my focus, emotional condition, spirituality and overall health has been at an all time high being sober. For anyone reading this blog with problems or even potential problems there is light at the end of the tunnel. I'm a prime example of hard work and sobriety working out.
A New Years Resolution that Drove Me Crazy
|Posted Tuesday, April 05, 2011 in Tags: Life
|It's funny looking back to New Years Eve 2010, my goal for the year was to take it easy and get my companies operating so I didn't need to be directly involved with the day to day tasks to keep them afloat. I've been working insane hours since 2004 and it was wearing on my soul - I felt detached from reality and I knew a breakdown of some sort was imminent. I was still in a position where I had to be online all the time to assure that my companies were doing well, if I left for a day or even a couple hours I could see a direct correlation with a decline in the numbers. Prioritization and balance of my life was completely whack, placing almost everything below business and money.
Goal setting is one of the most important things that I do to keep me motivated, and I was confident in myself that I could get the companies setup in a way that I could be detached and start actually living life. After the first quarter, I started aggressively hiring and training employees for Eagle Web Assets - established management and accountability in every division. I researched business models and efficiency then built what I learned into the business. After implementing everything, the day came where I woke up early prepared for an 18 hour day and was completely done with everything after a couple hours. Not a single email in my inbox, completed all my writing for a week, checked in with all the managers and delegated all the tasks I could think of. I was shocked, I actually had idle time on my hands. I didn't know what to do with myself - a complete workaholic with free time? I took the cars out for a drive, I spoke with business partners, and still had time.
I got what I wanted and I started losing my mind, the balance that I finally achieved drove me crazy. It didn't feel right to me having so much free time on my hands, so I got my mind rolling and decided it was time to launch another company - BLAM Ads. I organized a business model, got to writing, and next thing you know the company was fully en route. Using the skills I recently learned about efficiency, I hired people right off the bat to help manage this project. I wanted to remain on the administration side of things, assuming that I may actually have an influx of work flow in from my other ventures I wanted to assure that it would move on without full involvement. After about 2 months of heavy involvement the wheels started rolling on their ownâ¦ and the idle time came back to me. I couldn't believe it, and finally realized that I'd have to accept it and get used to it.
I started picking up hobbies outside business, made sure that the time I spent with my girlfriend was fully dedicated to her, and continued to do my administration work on the assets that I own. I came to the realization that I was best used on the administration side of things and I knew I could drive companies in different niches into profitability. This is exactly when I decided to focus my efforts more into our angel investment division. I wanted to once again step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself and my ability to run multiple businesses in profitability.
The workaholic in me came out again and in no time the business opportunities began popping up more and more. In 6 months EWA invested in over a dozen more companies, setup hierarchy and management within them, developed strong branding and marketing initiates, and shared the resources that we have. The 2010 New Years resolution that I set for myself has proven to be one of the best things to happen to me in both my business and personal life now. I can now spend my time speaking with partners, executives and developing new business concepts myself to be implemented by a specialized workforce that has grown to over 125 centralized employees in Eagle Web Assets. For any self-employed people reading this, I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and start hiring people to do your job. This step in business truly separates the men from the boys, and if you do take steps in this direction you will be able to achieve the heights of your dreams faster than you've ever imagined.
A Retrospective Look After 2 Years Sober
|Posted Sunday, July 04, 2010 in Tags: Life
|All I ever wanted in life was a Range Rover, an icy watch and a fresh pair of Air Force Ones - looking back it's amazing how much farther I've come and what I went through to get where I'm at. When I first started working I was still in high school; working a part time job and somehow managing to put in another full time workload into developing websites that made little money. I was a big dreamer and money was the motivation; I associated success entirely with material possession. As I worked longer hours, the money stacks started adding up. I quit my job, picked up my blunt and got on the nonstop hustle. The riches came pouring in and I wanted nicer cars, clearer diamonds, bigger sacks, and shorter skirts. More - the only thing I cared about.
I attributed my success to my drug use and continued that full throttle. I was the man; self-made and self-paid. I had my own house, car, everything - why couldn't I do a little of this and a little of that? I was too smart to get addicted to anything. As this mindset progressed my life continued to run smoothly, further reinforcing it. But life took me for a turn - as quickly as I rose up financially, everything started to go wrong. Outwardly, things looked fine, but inside I was torn apart. I was going through life like a drone without emotions and with an ego too big for my own good. As the use got more excessive, I rationalized by ignoring the signs and solely looking at the success of my business - an addict couldn't ever have gotten as far as I have, right?
My life spiraled out of control and I lost scope of what was important. It wasn't about working anymore; it was about waking up and partying all day. It was about fueling my ego more with fake people. Friends would drop and new ones would come - it didnt faze me. I made relationships and lost them; it didn't faze me! All I cared about was me and my substance; I didn't care about anything or anyone else.
This drug fueled lifestyle got me into a lot of trouble: spiritually, mentally, legally and emotionally I was a broken man. I may have had a bank account with a couple digits in it but that's all I had. Everything was clearly showing me to stop, but at the time I was so shortsighted I couldn't see the big picture. After a long series of horrible events (I could write a book on just this) I decided it was time for me to get sober. For the first time I wanted to get sober for myself and for my own life: not for the legal system, my parents, a girlfriend or anything. Completely for myself.
I was beaten into willingness and did what I needed to do. I white-knuckled it for months, worked on building a relationship with God and slowly but surely I made it through month and month. That was two years ago - and I can now truly say that I'm living on borrowed time. I rose up from the depths of a living hell to become a man with character, gratitude and a newfound will to do the next right thing. I was given the gift of sobriety - and I refuse to give that back.
Even though it's like I'm living in a dream, it's not always like it seems: I still feel the same pains as you. I still have my highs and lows in life but I now have confidence that God will take care of me in the long run. I do not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it - it's molded who I am now. I decided to share the harder times in my life to show you that everyone, even Birdman himself, has gone through the trials of life and come out stronger than ever. You CAN rise up and make it through it - no matter what you're going through.
|Ryan is just tryin' to get paid.