Do you know why I love our globalized world so much? Because it shows me the diversity, courage and boldness of people that I’d never come across otherwise and who inspire me to be as much me as I can be. Ruthie Lindsey is one of them. Her story is remarkable and has touched me on numerous accounts in very different phases of my life, even though I’ve never spoken to her and in all likelihood, she doesn’t even know I even exist.

Ruthie works as a speaker and stylist in Nashville, Tennessee. Shortly before graduating from high school, she had a car accident that left her on life support with three broken ribs, punctured lungs, a ruptured spleen and two broken vertebrae in her neck. Doctors told her she had a five percent chance to live and a one percent chance to walk again. After a month in hospital however, she was healthy again and walked out with only a neck brace.

After graduating and meeting and getting married to her first boyfriend, an incredible pain shot through her body one day – and didn’t go away. Doctors couldn’t find the cause, countless therapies didn’t do anything, and so she took heavy narcotics and started to become isolated from her community, spending more and more time in bed.

In the middle of getting the much-needed surgery that would potentially keep her from becoming paralysed, her Dad had an accident. He fell down a flight of stairs and passed away from brain damage. During the surgery that removed a wire from her brain stem which was causing the pain, Ruthie suffered major nerve damage. She also contracted a bacterial infection and suffered from panic attacks, nervous breakdowns and insomnia.

Im inspired by my dear friend and brother @milesadcox who said, “Don’t make a point out of your progress. Share a story from your struggle” so I’m going to share something w y’all. I don’t ever want to come off like I have it all figured out or that I have it all together. There are days I feel like a complete fuck up and that I’m barely keeping my head above water. There are days my pain gets the best of me and I feel like my body is 100 years old and I don’t think I can get up. There are days I mourn and feel the massive loss of not being a mom and that I’ll never fulfill that life long dream of being a mother. There are days when I feel so lonely and the utter weight of being single. There are days I worry so deeply for my future bc if my pain is this bad now how in the world will I manage it 10, 20, or even 50 years from now?!? I think it’s so important to mourn loss and to feel the weight of it but my hope for me and for you is that we don’t stay there. We all have so many unfulfilled dreams and life very rarely looks the way we think it will when we are young and clueless. But guys, like @sherylsandberg said, “option A isn’t an option so let’s kick the shit out of option B” life is so hard but it’s also so sweet. When I feel the weight of these things I reach out to my best friends, I journal, I say thank you for all the beautiful things I do have in my life. Lately my pain has been getting me so down and today I just started saying thank you over and over that I can still walk, and that I can still dance. I said thank you for all the kids that I get to be an aunt to. I said thank you for my singleness and the freedom I have to travel for a month with my best friends around the world!! What a PRIVILEGE! When I live out of that place of gratefulness my perspective changes and shifts and I start noticing all the beautiful things I do have and not the things I’m missing. Sweet friends, life is so hard, let’s have a lot more grace for ourselves and for others as we are all just doing the best we can!!! Photo by @paperantler

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So just when she thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. But when she hit rock bottom, she also hit a turning point. A slow one, but a turning point nonetheless. She got off medication, a process which her marriage didn’t survive; she found herself single for the first time in a decade. As a way to make life more welcoming, she started rearranging her house to make it feel more like a warm hug when she entered. Ruthie started an Instagram account and her design started to pop up on several interior blogs after a friend had photographed it. Taylor Swift even shot the artwork of “Red” at her place, it was that stunning. But then messages poured in where people said they were jealous of her perfect life while Ruthie, on some days, was still unable to get out of bed because of her pain.

That’s when she started sharing her story online. That’s when she realised that maybe the rawness of it would inspire people so much more than a beautifully arranged flat. The pain isn’t gone now and it’ll probably always be a part of Ruthie’s life but she resolved to no longer let it ruin everything and distract her from the things she loves: hosting dinner parties, traveling, giving workshops and speaking at events and sharing the joy that life gives her. To me, it seems like Ruthie lives life more intensely than I do; she’s more grateful, more humble and more resilient. I know this all comes at a price, and Ruthie herself says she wouldn’t wish this rollercoaster ride on anyone, the pain in her body, the loss of her Dad and the struggle of having to say “No” a lot when her body just doesn’t have enough energy to take on another project.

But the journey is one that she’s still on, and it’s teaching her to take care of herself well, because only then can you take care of others, supporting them and lifting them up when they need it. On Instagram, a platform that is often associated with sugarcoating life with an overdose of perfect legs, peonies and avocado toasts, she doesn’t beat around the bush about how much everything sucks sometimes – and how you and you alone can (and maybe should) change your mindset to become a beaming example of hope, love and beauty. She also makes me want to visit Nashville, like, right now – but I’ll leave that for another time.

Hosting people in my home is one of my favorite things to do. When I bought this home three years ago, I made the decision not to have a roomate so that my guest room could be available to anyone who may need it, whether they are just passing through town for vacation or needing a place of respite during a season of transition, I want this room to feel like home to them. My hope is when they walk through the door the feel loved, welcomed and peaceful. I got to share some of my thoughts on hosting on West Elm’s blog. Check it out if you’d like, the link is in my bio. Pic by my dear pal @thiswildidea, who ended up moving here after he and maddie stayed with me a couple of times. My plan worked. I want all my people to move to Nashville!!!!

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