WRITTEN BY ISABELLA MARGOT
On a chilly Spring day, we meet Ruthie Lindsey inside the podcast room at Weld. She’s wearing an outfit in her signature style: felt fedora and skinny jeans, blouse buttoned to the top shelf and peeking out from beneath a chic, boxy-fit coat that is perfect for this kind of weather. She stands around six feet tall, slender, with ivory skin and almond-shaped eyes—the color of which I catch glimpses of between the smiles and laughter that tilt her head back and squeeze her eyes shut. Her eyes are blue—bright, bright blue and I can’t help but think it’s the perfect word to describe her: bright.
When she first entered the room, I noticed she took everything in as if she were Benedict Cumberbatch playing Sherlock Holmes on the BBC. It was an almost imperceptible assessment of us, and her surroundings, performed with more than just her eyes. This act is important to Ruthie as a form of meditation she’s developed and strives to live out in every moment, with every breath. It is a search for beauty because beauty is the sword she wields against her greatest enemy in this life: her pain.
“I don’t ever want to come across as if I have this Pollyanna-ish life and everything’s perfect, because it’s hard. I’m hurting all the time and it’s difficult.”
Ruthie suffers from nerve damage she sustained after her second spinal fusion surgery. That’s right: second. She needed the second surgery because the wire from her first surgery snapped and punctured her brain stem. She’s the only person in history this has ever happened to and it took the doctors years to figure out what was causing the crippling pain she was experiencing.
I’m mesmerized. Ruthie has the special gift of an orator and her story is one of the most compelling I’ve ever heard. It all began when she was a teenager and an ambulance hit her, almost taking her life. Years later, shortly before her second surgery, she lost her father in a tragic accident. As she delicately unfolds the events of her past, she includes how depression and addiction broke her and how she lost her marriage as well.
“[I feel like I’m here on earth] to share the message that there is so much beauty and so much hope in the midst of brokenness. [...] it doesn’t take away that life is hard and there are so many painful things, but there’s so much beauty and [a rich life] to be experienced in the midst of it.”
Her hands move like two stars set to orbit perfectly around her emotions. Her voice is clear and warm, well-rounded by the trademark southern-accent of the sweet land of southern bayous. When she says ‘exhausted,’ it sounds like she could collapse into her bed and sleep for a week. ‘Sweet’ leaves her mouth like she’s just tasted the nectar from a honeysuckle on a hot summer day. As her words rise and fall, I can actually hear the typography in them. Certain ones are bold and others are most definitely italicized. Her energy is contagious, but it wasn’t always this way.
“Up until that point, I led with pain, so that’s how everyone saw me. [...] I decided I don’t want people, when they leave me, to feel sorry for me. I want [them] to feel really loved, cared for, and seen. So, I just started changing everything. Literally everything.”
She’s made a name for herself as a stylist and a public speaker, but Ruthie won’t ever forget what it was like to live in her bed, seeing neither sunrise nor sunset, convinced she was a burden to the world. She started her own business with a leap of faith, encouraged by friends who thought she had a gift and wanted her to pursue it. Having created something out of nothing, Ruthie always works with two goals in the forefront of her mind: to never leave the posture of learning and to always be someone other people love to be around.
“Start doing it. Start creating what you want to create, even if it’s not to make money. Start asking to help people that you admire. Don’t expect to be paid and be okay with that. Just learn from them.”
Ruthie also seems to have an unofficial rule in her life: to dance as often and as hard as she possibly can no matter how her body might feel in the morning. A lover of music, Ruthie tunes in from the moment she wakes up until she lays her head down at night. Lately, she’s been rocking out to an artist she admires for more that just her sound.
“[Christine and the Queens] is just this badass French girl. Literally every morning I wake up and ask myself how I can dress like a French-lesbian today because I want to look just like Christine and the Queens. She’s the best dancer I’ve ever seen ever. I watch her video over and over again and I’m just like ‘Oh. My. GAH!’ She is a dream. I love her so much.”
This is the energy we love so much about this woman. We can’t help but laugh and agree with her: yes, Christine and the Queens is amazing and, yes, the French-lesbian look is officially life goals. Now, go check it out, crank it up, and get your body moving.