Why Ruthie Lindsey Believes We Are ALL Capable of Healing + Finding Our Purpose
You know when you meet someone and just feel tremendous amounts of joy and support emanating from them, even through a screen? That's what it was like when I sat down to interview writer, designer, all-around creative human Ruthie Lindsey.
In this edition of Creative Crushin', I'm deeply honored to share more about Ruthie's creative process, what motivates her, how she is handling pandemic life, and what inspired her to share her story of healing with the world.
Anjelika Temple here, co-founder of Brit + Co, human who has lived with chronic physical pain for most of my life, and someone who feels so grateful to have received Ruthie's book There I Am right at the beginning of the pandemic.
Before we get to the interview, a little more about Ruthie's journey.
At seventeen years old, Ruthie Lindsey was hit by an ambulance outside of a gas station in rural Louisiana. She broke her neck, punctured her lungs, and ruptured her spleen. Doctors performed a spinal cord fusion using wire and miraculously, she walked out of the hospital within a month.
Only a few years later, newly married and settling into adulthood, a simple turn of her head left her body riddled with chronic pain. Her case confounded medical professionals and in the months that followed, she became addicted to narcotic painkillers, depressed, and bedridden. After dozens of visits to specialists and surgeons, a doctor discovered that the wire holding her neck together was piercing her brain stem. Without another surgery, she would be paralyzed.
As she prepared for the procedure, her father passed away suddenly, her marriage began to collapse, and she surrendered her spirit to dependency and suffering. The surgery repaired her spine but she still felt broken, inside and out, until she chose to change her narrative.
Ruthie went home to the same town where she almost lost her life. She decided to learn joy again, to retrain her spirit to soothe her physical pain, to salvage strength from her suffering. She traded fentanyl for sunsets and morphine for picking wildflowers on the side of the road. Ruthie stopped using her body as a hiding place and started using it as her bridge to connect with the world.
Read on to learn more about Ruthie, her story, and why she wants everyone to know that they are worthy, deserving and capable of healing.
Anjelika Temple: Your journey is beyond inspiring. Overcoming unexpected challenges, unbearable physical pain, heartbreak and loss — talk to me a little bit more about how all these things came together to help you find your voice and your mission.
Ruthie Lindsey: Yeah. I mean, a lot did happen. A beautiful thing about perspective, you know, is being able to look back. It was interesting writing my book, because you have to re-traumatize yourself and go back in so viscerally. And because our brains don't know time, you don't know that you're not going through those things. Your body doesn't know that you're not back in those experiences, I had to relive going through my car accident, and relive living in my bed for seven years, and relive finding out about the wire in my brainstem, and relive burying my daddy, and going through this divorce.
At the time, I felt very abandoned. I felt very left behind. There was a lot of entitlement in my pain. I would think, this can't be my life. I felt very sorry for myself and just couldn't see outside of my pain. But all of those things, all of those traumatic, painful things all became the invitations and entry points for me to ultimately come home to myself and do this healing work that I think we're all so deserving of.
If my life had turned out the way that I planned and thought, I never would have woken up. I would have never come into my own consciousness. I never would have gone so deep into this healing journey. I know that I am getting to be a more wholehearted version of why I came here to do this work, not despite my pain, but because of it. Again, I don't know why the universe is set up in that way, but I think it's designed to allow our souls to expand, and ultimately to come home to ourselves. And now, all of it, it was like, that all had to happen for me to wake up. I wouldn't change any of it. It was so painful and so hard, and now my life is really beautiful and really full. And it can be a "both and", you know?
Anj: What advice do you have for creatives who are searching for their voice, for their purpose?
Ruthie: I think we all have something to say, and we all have a voice. That might just be in your home, it doesn't have to be on this big grand stage. But you are meant to be here. And you are worthy, and you're deserving. Your words, your voice matter. I think it all comes back to beginning with radical acceptance and self love, and understanding that you have something of value to bring to this world. You have something that is so needed and so worthy and so deserving. That's been so much of my journey of unlearning and remembering. I grew up in a church that said I was a depraved broken wretch, and I sang hymns singing those words, you know? I held onto that and believed it.
So much of it is self love and just radical tender self acceptance. I do so many practices to come home to myself and to love on myself, and give myself tenderness and kindness and compassion. The more I do that, the more I realize it's empowering, right? Because then when you're standing in that place of knowing, connecting to source energy and that light, that divine light that's within all of us, then you step into your power. And not the patriarchal way, but in the loving way. Like, oh, I have something to give here.
Anj: What do you love most about writing and sharing your vision and story with the world?
Ruthie: I don't love anything about writing. It's my actual f*cking nightmare. I hate it. It's so painful and so hard. And the most loving thing I've done for myself. Because it gives me space to feel my feelings that I want to avoid at all costs. It's painful. It's super painful, but it also, it's what brings things up to be healed.
It's the deepest healing journey that I've ever been on so far. My book changed so drastically in writing it. I sold a book to Simon and Schuster called Salvaged, Building a Beautiful Life with Broken Parts, because I thought I was broken. I started doing this work and it was so miserable, and I was so not okay that I dove in. Because I was so not okay. I dove in out of desperation, honestly, into the deepest healing work that I've ever done in my whole entire life. It's that remembering of what is so right with us and not what's wrong with us.
Anj: As someone who really does put forth your authentic voice, you're an artist, writer, human, you're trying new things. How do you strike the balance between your own mental health and the pressure to be productive?
Ruthie: That is such a great question. I think it's always this both, and. There have been times where I've had to check in with myself and push myself to be productive and do things that I didn't feel like doing.
I delete Instagram. I delete it all the time and that feels like love to me. It feels like I give away so much of myself. I wrote this book. I share a lot of myself. I used to feel the pressure of, I need to post this often, I need to do this and I need to do that. And I'm like, says who? That's no one's law. That's not a rule. You need to take care of yourself. I've taken a lot of me time. I spend a lot of time in the woods alone. I delete social media. I delete it often. And that feels like self care.
Now in a pandemic, we're in this freaking pressure cooker and it's bringing a lot of stuff up. I hadn't been home this long in, I don't know. I think my body wanted to rest, wanted to sleep. I don't have to be pushing out material all the time. One of my spiritual coaches was saying, we have to think about different seasons of life, like seasons of weather. You might be in a fall season right now where it's literally just letting things go and then things will regenerate and produce. Give yourself a break. You don't have to jump back into a new project to be producing just to be productive. I've had to fight that nagging question, "am I being lazy?" Just get over it and give yourself compassion and love and tenderness.
Anj: How do you reset? What does that even look like for you now in the pandemic and normally?
Ruthie: Yeah, for me always being in nature. I feel so much flow for me that happens when I just walk in nature. And also meditation. When I get still. Like right now I'm doing a 120 day meditation where if you skip a day, you have to start over. I gave myself that practice because I was avoiding it. I was avoiding going inside, you know? And it's always so loving. It's so loving to connect with that light and that divinity and that stillness, and getting in the present. It's so easy to stay disassociated or future tripping about what's coming up. Or regretting and mulling over what happened instead of just being here. When I allow myself to be in the present and connect within, that's where I'm connecting to source energy.
Anj: People need people, especially those of us in the creative field. It can be easy to hole up in the work. Tell me more what your support system and creative community looks like, now, and then also in "normal" life.
Ruthie: I am so fortunate. I really am. I think my one truest spiritual gift is collecting amazing souls. I was so blessed from the get go. In school I had such severe learning disabilities, sitting in the classroom was such a nightmare. Nailed the playground, that was just my zone, you know? And so I think that's part of just my makeup, but I also really do believe in the law of attraction. I believe we get back what we get out. If you want amazing friends, you have to be an amazing friend. I think energetically the state that you're in is how you draw in people that are doing and thinking through similar things. My friends are on the journey, and we might be in different stages of it, but everyone's on the journey of self awakening, and coming home, and healing, and doing this really enlightening work.
I glean so much from them and they get to glean from me too. It's a very beautiful, enriching experience. My friends really do make me better. They make you want to be better. We hold each other at a higher vibration and I think my best friend Jed said it so well, different friends hold different keys to you, and to your heart.
I want to be around friends that are expansive, not constricting. There are people where you feel like, that just drained me. That didn't feel good. And I want to be a life giving friend. I want to be an expansive friend. And I think my friends long to do the same thing too. My friendships are foundation for me.
Anj: If you could give your younger self a pep talk, what would it sound like?
Ruthie: So much of my journey has been going back in. Some of it's been re-parenting and showing up for myself in those times and saying to myself... I wouldn't try to go change anything, ever. Ever. I just go back in and tell myself, you are so loved. You are so good. And you are so worthy. And you are so deserving. And you're exactly where you're supposed to be.
We can literally go back in and give ourselves love. I think I've so fallen in love with that girl that I was, that was on every drug under the sun and ruined a marriage and made so many mistakes. I had to go through that. It's so unbelievably hard, like earth school's so fucking hard. But it's also beautiful. It's both and. I would not change one thing. I just lavish her with so much love and promise her that I'll never leave her.
For more soul-filling inspiration, read Ruthie's book, There I Am: The Journey from Hopelessness to Healing and follow her on Instagram @ruthielindsey.