Ryan_onMacBookProI have a fast-paced tech career in the mobile advertising industry.

By day, I write massive amounts of code and construct cutting-edge mobile ads for many of the world’s top brands. I also develop innovative ad technologies with the pioneers and world leaders in location-powered mobile advertising.

Despite the fast pace of it all, I deliver all of my projects on-time.

By night, the work doesn’t stop.

In addition to my ad agency day job, I also run several entrepreneurial ventures. At one point, I think I was running about ten side ventures, many of them failures/non-starters, few of them successes, even fewer of them major successes.

One of my moonlighting duties is running a successful health, wellness and nutrition site with my college buddies, and another is developing a highly popular social network and entertainment destination for fathers worldwide.

During the day, I work. At night, I work. And, at all times of the day, I parent.

IMG_5583I am a father to a wonderful 7-year-old son with Autism and ADHD, who needs to be shuttled to-and-from school, extracurricular activities, camps, playdate appearances, and countless therapy sessions. He requires help with his homework at times. He asks for my attention and support for basic and intermediate executive functioning skills. He wants me to teach him how to code so he can grow up and be a game developer. He needs me to cook for him or grab him a burrito at the local Mexican grill. He begs me to play video games with him incessantly throughout it all.

Ask me if I’m busy.

Go ahead, do it!

I’m waiting.

Ok. Sure, I admit, to an outsider witnessing my situation, one would think I’m busy as hell, way overextended, run ragged, stressed-out, sleep-deprived, ready to throw in the towel, crying out for help.

Sure, I’m busy, I guess, in the strictest definition of the term. But, I really embrace it all. I don’t get too worked up or stressed over any of it. In fact, I love it, am strengthened by it. I learn from it.

Yes, my life is full, and I’m enriched by it.

To everything that I’ve mentioned above, add that I’m currently in the midst of a highly contentious separation and divorce with my son’s mother, a situation that certainly does not bode well in the alleviation of life’s stress. Trust me on that one.

All things considered, life is excellent. I love my life.

Three years ago, I was extremely depressed, on the brink of suicide.

You see, when my divorce was in its infancy, my wife had decided to move out of the house, and she took all of our possessions across the country to begin a new career and a happier life for herself without me in it. In so doing, she took our [then] 4-year-old son with her, leaving me in an empty home, with no furnishings, no family, no loved ones, surrounded by nothing but houseplants.

A few months after that, I got laid off from my 9-to-5, which sent my life spiraling down, on the verge of financial collapse.

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Ask me if I was happy.

Go ahead, do it!

I’m waiting.

While I’d love to say that that was the only layoff I’ve experienced in the past few years, alas, it was not. During my darkest times, I’d spend most of my days drinking 6-packs of beer, eating bags of potato chips and hoagies prepared by local convenience stores in a futile attempt at good spirit and decent health, to no avail.

On the bright side, I did have a great creative outlet, and I wrote code around the clock, non-stop.

I drank beer. I ate junk food. I wrote code.
I drank beer. I ate junk food. I wrote code.
I drank beer. I ate junk food. I wrote code.

And, somehow I managed to avoid giving up all hope on a better life…Or, life itself, for that matter.

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Early mock-up of Life of Dad…Pretty ugly, eh?

The code I wrote back then during my most suicidal times has, today, turned into an incredible social network and entertainment destination for dads, touching millions worldwide, the success of which has instilled plenty of self confidence and hope for the future, a sense that my life matters, that my service to others makes a positive difference, and an overall appreciation for everything that life has to offer.

And, that’s just my side venture (Correction: one of my side ventures).

Nowadays, my day job is a dream job, where I work from home, with freedom and flexibility to balance out most of my life’s demands. And, while I have plenty of deliverables and deadlines for developing and delivering million-dollar ad campaigns, all due yesterday [at worst] and ASAP [at best], I love every last moment of it and pour all of my passion into it.

I don’t stress.

Not one bit.

I love my life. I plan my time. I crush my deadlines. I take it easy.

While many people are frenetically fighting traffic patterns, skipping their morning workouts, sipping morning lattes, and scarfing down convenient breakfast wraps and fast-foods on-the-go, just to clock into jobs they barely endure, reporting to micromanaging bosses they hate, I’m taking a leisurely stroll up to my local Whole Foods store or farmers market to select my produce for the day.

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To be clear, I shop for fresh produce daily. I prepare every single meal I eat from scratch. I slice fruits, I chop vegetables, I mince roots and herbs, I sprinkle spices, I smash avocados, I crack organic pepper, I stir dressings, I tear apart leafy greens, drizzle extra virgin olive oils on kale, add splashes of lemon, and, yes, I massage my food.

Everything I consume is 100% fresh.

You see, In the midst of all the stuff I’ve got going on, I make it a point to treat myself right. In all honesty, it hasn’t always been this way. I used to think that my destination in life (however defined) was so doggone important, as if the place that I had to be at any given moment was far more important than the place I’m at right now, in this very moment.

It is not.

What I have found is that I don’t have to do anything in this life. Absolutely nothing. I don’t have to be anywhere. I don’t have to be anywhere ON-TIME. I don’t have to work. I don’t have to make money. I don’t have to have things. I don’t have to report to a jackass boss. I don’t have to overcommit (or commit at all) to anything.

Nothing. Indeed, not even life.

When I decided not to kill myself three years ago, it was a ever-so-slight assertion to myself and to the world that my life mattered, even if in a small insignificant way. I had a son depending on me (even if from afar). I had friends and business partners who believed enough in me to trust me with delivering their venture ideas, hopes, and dreams. And, even I partially believed that I could be of service to others in this world, and that that service made a positive difference.

So, I literally decided to live.

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During the very darkest times in my life, I remember once telling myself, “If life is gonna suck THIS hard, I might as well do what I love, and do ONLY that.”

So, from that point forth, I decided to cherish every moment and to guard my time against others who’d attempt to demand it and mistreat it. I focused on my passion. I treated myself right, above all other things.

I see countless people stressed out and sleep-deprived by all of the busyness of their lives, by all of the demands, and by all of the tasks of today. I look at them, and I see my former suicidal self.

I do not tell them to change their ways. I do not encourage them to quit their jobs and sacrifice their paychecks, nor give them career advice. I do not offer them health/wellness advice. I do not even offer them advice at all. I’m not really sure they’d listen if I did, let alone understand.

But, I do wish them well.

And, as they rush to get onto the next thing that is oh-so-important for whatever reason, I do hope that they’ll eventually see infinite value in their lives, their lifetime, and the health of their families, to slow down just a tad, to eliminate the stuff that’s not working for them, the stuff that doesn’t matter, and to treat themselves just a little bit better, even if it means hitting absolute rock-bottom to realize this.

I’m about as busy as you or anybody else, I suppose. But, it sure doesn’t feel like it. I wish I could give this feeling to the world, but I can’t.

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Oh well…

People often ask me, “Ryan, how the heck do you do it all?”

And, my answer to them is, “I don’t.”

All things in due course of time, I suppose.

“Chop chop!”


This post originally appeared in slightly edited form on GreatMomentsInParenting.com