I used to make up stories about how I became disabled. A go-kart crash, a bear fight, a piano fell from the sky. It was all fun and games and meant for lightheartedness. But eventually, I realized that it was dishonest — to others and myself. So today, it’s time to set the record straight.
I was born with cerebral palsy and almost died twice as a kid. First at birth and again at 7 months when I caught meningitis. Most of my childhood memories are about hospitals, doctors, and living on a farm in Ohio. I disliked all three.
As a depressed teen, the only things that gave me comfort were music and the internet. Outside of school, most of my time was spent alone because I lived in the middle of nowhere. I grew up on a diet of Limp Bizkit and Korn and frequented an AOL chat room called hot tub. High school was about guitar and building internet projects with pirated versions of Dreamweaver and Photoshop.
A week after graduation, the farm fell into foreclosure. I went to college for a semester but dropped out to tour as a musician. After that I had nowhere to go and flew to LA to start anew.
In January 2006, I landed at LAX and slept there for a month. I kept the airline tags on my bags and alternated terminals every night. I pretended that I had arrived on the redeye and that my ride didn’t show up. When TSA caught on, I moved to the Greyhound station downtown. Luckily, I found a job as a telemarketer and rented out a music rehearsal studio with my first paycheck. You weren’t supposed to live there, but I pulled it off.
The following year I got hired at LegalZoom and launched a music website called Ryan’s Rock Show. Going from minimum wage to an annual salary changed my life. It gave me financial stability and improved my standard of living. I got a car, moved into a house, and had the freedom to focus on creative endeavors. I spent the decade of my 20s working 9-5 and interviewing bands I admired growing up. I also turned my house into a music venue and invited the bands I met to play there.
Then in 2016, I quit everything to become self-employed — the job, the website, the venue. I tinkered with several projects that flopped. But by 2018, an e-commerce business I bootstrapped gained traction. It generated $75k per month in revenue in its first year and was snowballing. Things were FINALLY starting to happen; life was taking off. Until it collapsed… and I went bankrupt.
Since then, I’ve been recreating my life. I’ve worked with multi-million dollar clients as a freelancer and sold an e-commerce brand that I built from scratch. I’ve also been trying to make sense of my personal journey and figuring out what to do next. That’s why I started this blog.
The writing you’ll find here is about the experiences, insights, and lessons I’ve learned through trial & error. If there’s one thing I’ve discovered through my ups and downs, it’s that you’re always a work in progress. Life is an ongoing process of creative destruction. As my telemarketing manager, Mike, used to say, “Take the best and leave the rest.” And make a better version of yourself tomorrow.