gather for her
During this global transition, the need for leaders who can operate within a different framework and capabilities is clear. An up-level of perspective with a responsive skillset and a clear process to make decisions is required for this new terrain. These are our wisdom gathering conversations following our PowHERhouse FireCircle model of group listening for HER.
Welcome to GATHER for HER.
BUILDING IMPACT #1 A Gather for HER Conversation with Tina Ruysseveldt
The Courage To Be True
GATHER for HER welcomed Tina Ruysseveldt, Author of The Courage to be True and the creator of Tina’s Recovery Yoga (“TRY”), which provides insights and methods for anyone who is in search of greater physical and mental well-being. Tina developed the LiveWell Recipe™ which she credits to saving her life from addictions and later proved to be instrumental in her inspiring comeback from her battle with cancer.
Tina writes and speaks about how understanding and embracing self-care in a meaningful way will lead you to an improved level of well-being and enhanced quality of life.
She is of Tuscarora heritage, a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River, a Mental Health Advocate, a sought after Inspirational Speaker, a Registered ICU Nurse, and a dedicated volunteer at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
Our moderator Christina Benty is a Systems Engineer and Strategist, retired politician, facilitator, governance coach, athlete and jazz singer. Christina’s focus is human systems within governance and organizational systems.
Our story tracker is core-communication specialist Tina Overbury. Tina works in story, guiding individuals and organizations to bring their authentic narrative to the surface for human connection.
Our graphic recorder is Sharon Marshall, an Indigenous entrepreneur of Cree and European ancestry, Skills Development Trainer and Facilitator, and the founder of DEVA Training & Staffing Solutions.
This is our Conversation:
Charlene SanJenko (CSJ): Good morning, and welcome to another GATHER for HER conversation. I'm Charlene SanJenko and I am the founder of PowHERhouse welcoming you this morning for another great conversation. I honestly cannot think of a place I would rather be than in conversation with women I feel supported, nurtured and safe with. I know our power compounds when we come together, and I'm a big believer in exponential math!
I’d like to acknowledge the place which I call home. I am fortunate to live on the traditional lands of the Squamish First Nations. We are not alone, I can feel that this morning.
I'd like to introduce you to my co-host, Christina. I'm wondering if you would kick it off and tell our audience members a little bit about what you feel is present for you this morning?
Christina Benty (CB): Good morning everyone. It's a beautiful day here in Golden. Welcome to all of the people joining us. You are most welcome here, and like Char said you're not alone. I am a performance coach and a strategic advisor for governing bodies. I'm really looking forward to this conversation as each week, they just keep getting better and better.
Tina Overbury (TO): Morning! and thanks for gathering with us. I really feel present with the importance of gathering today. I am this morning aware that there's only so much one human psyche can take, and there's only so much one human body can take, but our spirit can take a lot. Today, I am remembering those who might think it's not worth getting out of bed, and would like to remind everyone that even when things looks bleak, there is good out there, even if we can only find it in sugar cube sizes. Can we stack the sugar cubes up today? Thank you for gathering. I'm really happy to be here.
Sharon Marshall (SM): Good morning. I'm very excited to be here today too. I'm here on the Snuneymuxw First Nations territory and as our graphic recorder, I am excited to draw out this conversation. I will be listening. I too feel we're not alone, I know I'm here with my ancestors. I'm looking forward to the conversation. Thank you.
CSJ: Thank you, Sharon. It's really important for me to express that this is a co-created conversation. We always have a loose format but then we just trust the process and follow what is drawn out. I'd like to also voice how important consistency is, that's what's coming up for me today. I'm very committed to consistent conversation and I know that what I practice most consistently in my life, whether it's brushing my teeth, or going to the gym, my dedication and devotion to consistency is what has always made the biggest difference. Without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to our very special guest Tina Ruysseveldt.
Tina is of Tuscarora heritage and a member of Six Nations of the Grand River. She is an amazing woman. First she's a registered ICU nurse, so she is a frontlines worker. She is living first hand, all that is happening in the world right now. Second, she has a courageous story to share that will make her guidance, wisdom, and all that is pulled through us today extremely relevant. Third, she has just released her book called The Courage to be True. We're going to be talking a little bit more about the messaging of that book and some of the tools and strategies she offers here. Welcome, Tina. I really want to express my appreciation for having you here this morning.
Tina Ruysseveldt (TR): Thank you for the kind introduction Charlene, and as you mentioned, I too am feeling a lot of emotions being on indigenous land this morning. I'm humbled and honored to be here as a guest today for GATHER for HER and I'm really excited to join in the conversation.
CSJ: I want to dive right into your story. I'll give a little bit of context and then I'd love for you to jump in. The theme for GATHER for HER this month is Building Impact. How do we think about building impact and creating change in a time when it feels like the world is literally collapsing around us? Where the heck do we even start? In our conversation with Carey, last week we started to talk about how to be a better leader, what it takes, and what it really means. I wondered if you could share a piece of your story around experiencing trauma, tough times, being on shaky ground, and remembering we're born for a purpose?
TR: Thank you. I’m happy to. The individual impact we have on ourselves and our lives is really important. Being our best self impacts everyone and everything around us. I'll give you a little backdrop before I dive into this next part. I came from a tough childhood in an alcoholic family and vowed I would never do that, and yet I walked right behind my mother on that path of alcoholism. Nine years ago I got sober. I started with self-love and self-respect. When I look back on my 20's, 30s' and 40's, I’m shocked by how little I thought of myself and how these thoughts showed up in the way people treated me. The impact of self-love is powerful and it starts inside of ourselves, with ourselves.
CSJ: What I love about your story, Tina, is that it's through some of these incredibly traumatic challenges that you have somehow kept that perspective. You somehow kept that vision of being your best self. We're experiencing an incredible amount of trauma and uncertainty right now. We're in the fire and it's so easy to give up hope. I'm curious if there is a key tool you've used to hold your vision? I'd love to open it up and see where the conversation goes from here. Christina, do you have any thoughts, or anything coming up for you around this?
CB: Two things. The first thing I want to pick up on is how we can get very discouraged by timing, and one of my favorite sayings I repeat to myself is: trust the timing of your life, things work out the way they do, and all the lessons you wish you’d learned years ago but didn't are in support of that timing. We often don't really grasp that until we're looking in the rearview mirror.
The other thing that I want to pick up on that is specific to these times is, when you're looking at building impact, never underestimate your ability but also never underestimate the importance of your non-anxious presence in the world. You can't give empathy, love and that non-anxious presence until you give it to yourself first. Tina talked about coming out of an addiction and embracing self-love, self-respect, and honoring her body's need to be whole. In this world of frenetic energy we can start with our home and our presence, never underestimating the value of neutrality, equanimity and staying grounded. I think that's a beautiful message. Thank you, Tina.
“Start with your home and your presence and don't underestimate the value of that neutrality, equanimity and your grounded presence.” - Christina Benty
TO: I wanted to hear more about individual impact. You and I had a pretty deep conversation a week ago about returning to a power source. You kind of went here this morning when you touched on individual impact and I'm just wondering if you can speak more about that?
TR: For example, I believe when a mom or a partner does something to support their physical and mental well being, it elevates them and it elevates the energy around them. Personal impact connects to our children and our households too, so on a grander level, being true to yourself, is one of the highest forms of making a difference to the people around us. When we’re true to ourselves there is an element of vulnerability, and when we share from vulnerability, truth and courage it carries because it’s the language of the heart.
“Being true to yourself, is one of the highest forms of exuding impact to those around us.” - Tina Ruysseveldt
CB: I really got jazzed when you said heart languages. Have you used that term before?
TR: It's relatively new to how I'm expressing things. Before I stopped drinking, I tried everything to save myself from alcoholism, and it was putting down the bottle which saved me. Along with getting sober, Yoga played a big role in my recovery, and as Carey shared last week, yoga is a tool to access emotions in the physical body. This was so important for me so that I could begin to process them and work through them.
CSJ: I love that. What I hear and what I think we're really talking about is how can we access this internal power source. Last week Carey talked about being a better leader by moving from fear to full color. Full color is how we access that internal power source which leads us to your LiveWell Recipe.
TR: The LiveWell Recipe was born in my darkest days. I drank until I was 44. I was the drunk in the ER that you hear about. I was physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally bankrupt. The LiveWell Recipe came about because I decided to live and I knew I had to do something to feel better. I started saying: Do what I can, with what I have, where I am today.
So that’s what I did. I did something, which turned into a few things, and then over the course of a year a few things grew to nine LiveWell ingredients, which I live by today. Living well is like making deposits of wellness into your life like enjoying a healthy breakfast, or having a good night's sleep, or practicing meditation and getting some exercise. If you start your day off on the right foot with one ingredient from personal LiveWell Recipe, you're on the right track to having a better day right from the get go. That's a basic sense of what the LiveWell Recipe is. The ingredients you choose to put in yours are all interconnected: mind, body, spirit. It's a deposit of self-love to yourself, and then it just keeps going from there.
“Do what I can with what I have where I am today” - Tina Ruysseveldt
CB: There's so many nuggets of wisdom there. Tina, you used the term 'when I put down the bottle', and I imagine there were things you were buffering against then. When we put down our shields, that's when our personal work begins. It’s also how we access our personal power, by looking at what we have been buffering ourselves from. All of a sudden there's no hiding behind the bottle. I'm imagining your personal recipe was born out of how facing what was behind the buffers.
TR: Yeah, the bottle had been my best friend. It was all I had yet it was in the way of everything.
CB: That makes sense and comes back to what Char was saying about our external world being a reflection of our internal world, and how systemic change can't happen until we have personal change. I love the LiveWell recipe and I know for me, I've got several non-negotiables to my own well-being like movement and drinking water. And so I love the idea of thinking about it as a recipe. Thank you for that, Tina.
"What have I been using to buffer my life with and, and is not serving me" - Christina Benty
TO: I'm feeling really hooked right now by the metaphor of putting the bottle down and yet I don't think that's what this morning’s conversation is about. I hear in this space that the story we’re all here to receive this morning is the simplicity and power of the words self-love and self-respect. I do want to ask you a few more things. I hear the ingredients of doing, but I’m also hearing an innately resourceful place inside of you, one that knows how to keep moving forward no matter what. I'm wondering if you could speak to that?
TR: I believe we're all meant to be the best version of ourselves, and that’s not an easy task. I believe there is always better ahead for each of us, and if we think that way by asking: What is the next best thing for me right now? Our lives are going to get better. I remember being a young girl in a very challenging circumstance and thinking like that. No matter what situation we're in, the option of feeling better is always there but it takes effort to change our patterns, and courage to look at our blind spots.
CSJ: I think for me it's actually remembering. I think if we paused and sat in quietness and remembered, we would call back a knowing that we are all connected. We would remember what being a human really means. We would remember that regardless of everything that's happened in our lives, we are loved. I think that love is innately born into us as a baby but we forget, and through these types of conversations where people show up as they are, we remember. Life can get pretty F'd up sometimes. Tina, you talk about being willing to face your full-self when you sit down and share your story. I think being our full-self is how we move from fear to full color.
How do we face our full-selves? Love our full-selves which includes our shadow side? Acknowledge the parts of us we'd like to sweep under the rug? Guess what happens when you sweep stuff under the rug for too long?
How do we face our full-selves, and love our full-selves, including our shadow side, including those parts of us that we'd like to sweep under the rug? - Charlene SanJenko
TR: Yes, that's a good question and topic. It's big for me, and I take a breath because to face my full-self as an alcoholic was very hard. I got to a point where I couldn't even look at the person I saw in the mirror. It takes courage to change, it takes courage to face our shadow side which has shaped us. A big piece of our shadow, is our secrets, and we all have them. Seven words that impacted me deeply in the early days of my sobriety are: you're only as sick as your secrets.
Some secrets are things we experienced as a child that weren’t even our fault. Our shadow is what we have been conditioned to move away from, thoughts, feelings and secrets. But that's the stuff to unearth and face. It's not easy, but it's sacred work. That work ties us back to what Charlene said about being loved.
CB: Can I ask a quick question? So much of this work is personal work, but it's also community work. Did you do this work with your community?
TR: Absolutely. Yes. I never believed this before, but I learned along the way, two years into my sobriety, no matter where we're at or what we're faced with, there is help all around us. We need to get out of our own way and ask for help, and then let our communities and loved ones have the privilege of helping us and be included.
Closing Circle Offerings
From Charlene SanJenko - CEO/Founder of PowHERhouse: Here's my challenge. I asked some of my closest colleagues yesterday, knowing where we're at right now in June of 2020: What do first steps forward feel like?
We're on shaky ground, how do we lead forward individually and collectively from here. I call these first steps, not next steps, because we're rebuilding now and I'm not going back to anything back there, because it needs to be in the past. There is a level of necessary discomfort because everything is new and it's pushing, and it's healing, and it's pain. It's facing my secrets, it's modeling and speaking up. If you're brave enough, I invite you to think about it for yourself: What first steps need to be made in order to have a look at our full-self, to move from fear to full color leaders. As Christina said, our external world is merely a reflection of our internal world and that's never been so obvious to me as it is right now.
From Christina Benty - Co-Host: You know what's coming to mind for me right now? A line from one of Margaret Wheatley's poems: treasure curiosity more than certainty. I wrote a piece this morning about becoming familiar with discomfort. Our brains don't like that, they want to be comfortable and get back to neutral. We're not on neutral ground right now, everything's tilted which comes back to what Tina was saying about becoming curious about our own thoughts and our own personal journey. Get curious and instead of living like I know exactly what's going on and here's my opinion, everybody better listen to it, have the courage to treasure curiosity more than certainty.
From TinaO - Story Tracker: I'm going to build on Tina’s self-love and self-respect, and Christina's curiosity. I keep coming back to the image of putting the bottle down and the reminder that every day your first step might be different than the day before. What I'm hearing is that when my allegiance is to my self-love and my self-respect, then I will only move at the speed of staying curious and keeping my self-love and self-respect intact. Some days I might take massive leaps, with mega outward courage and some days I might take really small outer steps with big courage on the inside. That's what I'm present with.
From Sharon Marshall - Graphic Recorder: This conversation has really resonated a lot with me. The words I heard were wisdom and intuition. Tina, when you were speaking about your journey and how it takes courage to change, and that courage was being drawn from somewhere, and the self-love that you didn't feel, but you HAD, it was there all the time deep within you. I heard deep within that well, the self-love is there, and you just have to pull it out. That's following your intuition and being courageous.
From Tina Ruysseveldt - Guest: Thank you. It's been amazing, and I'm grateful to be part of this conversation. I'd like to say that I know these times are challenging for all of us. We are all connected and some people's stories are much more tragic than others and let’s not discount that, but I do want to say that what's going on now, in this global adversity is our resilience is being built. This is what growing looks like. We often don't get to choose our own growth, it's often placed on us as COVID was. We don't pick the tough choice/change/growth option, and for many of us, there will be good that comes from this.
Charlene SanJenko: CSJ
Thank you. I think it's so important to end on a respectful and a positive note because that's what the world needs. We're not going to run towards tough change, right? But that is what we need and ultimately is what ends up bringing out our very best selves.
Chi-Miigwech (Big Thank You)
To watch the forty-five minute interview in its entirety click here.
Gather for Her is a series of wisdom gathering conversations with women who lead. Each recorded session follows PowHERhouse’s FireCircle model of group listening, witnessing and harvesting to support the leaders of today through the fire of our time.
Today’s conversation was moderated by Christina Benty, Owner of Strategic Leadership Solutions, story tracked by Core Story Specialist Tina Overbury, graphic recorded and Indigenous informed by Sharon Marshall of DEVA, and hosted by PowHERhouse CEO and founder, Charlene SanJenko.