So, let’s talk

Earlier today, I had a little sit-down with myself to figure a few things out. You see, my inner critic has been working overtime in the past month or two, absolutely convincing me that the following were completely, and without question, true:

  • My words were no longer meaningful, and they no longer mattered with the masses;
  • Blogs were dead, stupid, antiquated, washed up, and no longer read (hey! just like me);
  • Your audience is sick of you;
  • You are pathetic to think otherwise; and
  • Hell, you are pathetic.

These thoughts stopped me from writing anything. I did not even write in my daybook. It was a ridiculous, self-piteous period of wallowing in negativity and doubt.

So, as I said, I had that little sit-down convo with me-truly, and I’m not going to lie, I let the expletives fly, as Seinfeld’s Kramer says.

It felt good. It really did. I needed to hear myself fight back against all that fake news that I have been self-spewing. I made the commitment to blog tonight, but with a purpose:

To not teach, preach, or inspire.

Gasp!

So, not only did I throw myself back into the fire, I threw away the crutches and dove in head first without a safety net.

Which brings me to what I’ll be doing here at The Baltimore Writer for the foreseeable future. Many years ago, I started writing “Rus Uncut” entries, and they were well received because they were so raw. I’ve tried a few times to get back to that, but I kept falling back into the teach-and-preach model.

Pathetic, right?

So here we are tonight, willing (desperately) to give it another shot.

What does that mean? Probably some really boring blogs, some out-there thinking, and maybe some pretty pictures to keep you coming back to see something shiny.

It means all of this, maybe none of it, maybe some Franken-mix of a bunch of different things. And I’ve opened comments for you to join in with the uncut-ness of the whole thing.

But what I can promise you is that it will be raw, uncut, and authentic. All Rus.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I need to do this for me, though, so there. You are welcome to follow along, share your thoughts, or unsubscribe entirely and vote to have The Baltimore Writer completely scrubbed from the interwebs.

We’ll see how this goes. Thanks for whatever choice you make (except for the web scrubbing. That would suck for sure).

Yours, sans teaching and preaching,

Rus

Christmas Is For Children, But They Give Us These Three Greatest Gifts

rvw octsnow2We hear and see it everywhere — from the non-stop Christmas music being played on radio stations to the holiday movies that we love to watch in the comfort of our own homes: Christmas is for kids.

I remember those early mornings, waking up before sunrise to see what magically appeared under the tree overnight. I would kneel in front of that magnificent plastic tree, with big colorful lights covering my world with greens and reds and blues. When my sister finally awoke and joined me, we shared those last few moments together in total bliss, waiting for our parents to join us.

These are the memories we make as kids. Magic, merriment, and family all rolled up in a bundle of wrapping paper and colorful light.

As we get older, though, the gifts we receive change. Where our greatest delight once came from the biggest box under the tree, our greatest gifts today come from the lessons of our own children. Here’s what mine have taught me.

Live The Life You Were Meant To Live

Before young children experience fear, guilt, or hurt, they cannot stop being who they are at such young ages. They demonstrate a forthright determination to fulfill a life lived as genuinely as we can only imagine as adults. For my own children, this meant gymnastics, equitation, baseball, and creative expression. It’s bigger than that, though; it’s about tapping in to the core of who you are and just doing it, living it, simply because it is what is inside of you. For me, it is writing, photography, and music. These are my oxygen. My kids remind me every day that I should never sacrifice the air that I breathe, for any reason. This is their first gift to us.

Love Everyone, EverywhereLegacy 5

A child’s compassion brings us to tears every single time, simply because it is pure; it is the nectar of our being. We see and feel our own love and innocence in their acts, and we even ask ourselves, at times, when did we become so jaded as adults? As I drive around town doing some last-minute shopping, the strangers around me shoot glares of anger, even threats of don’t-you-dares and get-out-of-my-ways. We complain that the holidays stress us out, but really — we are the generators of that stress. It’s not the stores, it’s not the pressure to buy! buy! buy!; it is simply our choice to abandon the basic principles of love because we feel that it is necessary to fulfill everyone else’s expectations. I don’t see our young children running around all stressed out during the holidays. I see them running around all excited, filled with love and magic and hope. Imagine shopping with a heart filled with those three wonderful things: love, magic, hope. This is their second gift to us.

Get Peace, Give Peace

As I walk through the stores and see frustrated moms and dads with their children, I don’t focus on the anger of the adults. I look at the children and see and hear what they are feeling, thinking, wishing, and dreaming: Peace. They don’t want their moms and dads angry, or frustrated, or stressed out. They want peace. They want the loud words to stop, the endless chain of No’s to finally find their end. They just want us to abandon our frustration, our anger, and receive their peace that they feel, enjoy the joy, and share in the magic. They don’t understand why we cannot see it or feel it. We can, if we only choose to. This is their third gift to us.

When our children were very young, and we would take them for Christmas drives to look at all of the pretty lights that you put up around your houses, we could not savor enough the oohs and aahs that would come from the back seat as they saw and felt and appreciated the magic of Christmas. We need to hear that again and carry it with us, not just in this holiday season, but always. We need to live our lives, love everyone, and participate in peace. These were never dreams of our children; they were their realities, just as they were once our realities as well.

Life. Love. Peace. Once and always within us.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Rus

compassion01

Put Yourself First To Be Selfless

It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Put YOURSELF first to be selfLESS? Such a contradiction, right? I mean, it goes against everything that we’ve been taught.

How HORRIBLE of you to think of yourself first! Do you realize how much more helpful you could be if you devoted more time to others? Instead of taking that run, or working on that project, you could be helping others in greater need than yourself.

Right?

I got fired up about this yesterday as I was listening to my brother-in-law’s interview down in Tampa about Caregiving (he’s written a book about it, and even has a great website; I’ve placed the promo video at the end of this post for you to get a better idea of the power of love that he shares with my sister). Well into the interview, the radio host asks him to talk about some caregiver tips (he’s got 70 great ones in the book), and the tip he shares is that caregivers have to take care of themselves. He then goes one step further and says that, even before the caregiver takes care of the patient, s/he has to take care of him/herself FIRST.

First! I couldn’t believe he said that on the radio, as the sole purpose of caregiving was to be there for the patient, first and foremost.

But after thinking about it for a few hours, it started to really make sense to me. How in the world can I take care of another individual, if I don’t first take care of myself? In the end, is it worth it if the caregiver falls ill from such personal neglect? ONE- where does that help the patient? and TWO- nobody asked you to sacrifice your life for that person.

I’m just 10 days away from my next 5K, and when I went on my run today (after not running for a few days), I realized how out of sync I had become in those days that I did not run. I neglected myself, and my mood dipped, I couldn’t be there for my kids like I had been just a week ago, and I started feeling less confident, insecure, and self-doubting about a lot of issues. Talk about HORRIBLE!

One run, though — one hour to take care of myself — and everything is rebooted. I feel great, my social interactions with my family have improved immediately, and I’m looking forward to working harder on a few projects that I’m in the middle of creating.

Why did I not run those last few days?

It’s a contagious, flesh-eating monster, I tell you. For all of you Little Shop Of Horrors fans out there, it was feeding Audrey II, and the more I did NOT take care of myself, the happier and bigger that monster got. The negativity, the diminishing effort to accomplish my goals, the stronger desire to eat more, work less…. Yeah, Audrey II was being fed a bunch of soul-sucking trash that was making me feel absolutely worthless.

The reason why I didn’t run is because I had “other things to do” that were creative in nature. I rationalized and said that this was BALANCE, this was feeding the muse, this was satisfying both the spiritual and the physical.

My daughter scoops less manure when mucking the stalls every weekend when she is at the farm.

Bottom line: If your workload is too much that you can’t take time out for yourself, then your workload is too heavy, and you got to cut something out. Simple as that. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is more important to you than keeping in shape, taking good care of yourself, and staying on top of YOUR game, whatever that game might be.

Then, and only then, can you truly be selfless for others. Only then can you be there when they need you, and in ways that don’t make you feel like you are sacrificing your life for theirs. It’s not about that folks. Never was, and never will be.

This is YOUR life. Love it. Live it. Give it.

No excuses!

Ok– Here’s the video promoting my brother-in-law’s book. It’s bigger than that, though. You’ll see. Music is by the wonderfully talented Pattie Lin. Pattie, you are the best.