Me and Dr. Ruth
It was around 1987 when I first heard Dr. Ruth’s voice come through my clock radio. Late one Sunday night, I heard this “little old lady’s” German-accented voice coming across the airwaves, teaching me about sex.
She took live questions on the air about sex and handled every taboo topic in a funny, factual, non-judgmental way.
She gave us listeners permission to be ourselves:
“There’s no such thing as normal. We are ALL normal.”
I took her words and her energy to heart.
Armed with accurate knowledge and permission to be in charge of my own body I felt more secure in my body and my desires.
More than just the facts of sexuality and sexual health, she was giving me so much more.
Here was a motivated, smart, caring woman sharing her knowledge with the world.
She was truly a gift to a young girl beginning to explore a scary world of sexuality.
And she continues to inspire this woman to keep going and keep talking about tough topics with love.
She encourages us all to explore ourselves and know ourselves so that we can share with the people close to us how we want to be treated.
And her lessons weren’t just about sex.
It’s about knowing who we are as people, what we want, and having the resilience and strength to ask, or fight, for what we need.
Dr. Ruth has lived by her own rules her entire life.
“Women have to take initiative and take responsibility for their own lives.”
- Growing up in a Jewish refugee orphanage she learned self-reliance and began living by her own rules. Because girls weren’t allowed to go to school past 8th grade, and she had a curious mind, she would illegally borrow the boys’ textbooks and study in the stairwell after dark.
- By 1961 she was on her third, and final, marriage. In those days divorce was very challenging for women, who couldn’t even get a loan, mortgage, or credit card without a man’s co-signature.
- As a sex educator, she stood with and for the gay community in the 1908s, at the height of the AIDS crisis, demanding education, better treatment for the humans being ignored, and funding for research.
- As the mother of two young children, she passionately pursued and finally earned her Ph.D. at the age of 42.
And her success came in the second half of her life: she began her radio career as a sex educator in 1981 at the age of 53. That show started as a 15-minute segment and grew in popularity until it became a two-hour show, and has resulted in a career of over 30 books, TV shows, and even a board game.
Her passion and belief have inspired millions of us to have agency in our lives in a deeply intimate and personal way.
I absorbed this tiny giant’s voice and messages at a very important time in my life, and I’ve carried her with me ever since.
There’s always some action or knowledge that can help us.
We often just need permission to be ourselves and speak our truth.
And talking about the “tough, taboo” topics is a skill that all humans need help with.
And we all need a non-judgmental place to reveal our questions and doubt so that we can find our next best steps, healing, and personal truth.
This has been a guiding light, and personal value of mine since I can remember, and I credit Dr. Ruth with helping me form my own style of coaching:
- Non-judgmental, yet honest.
- Joyful, yet respectful.
- Safe and serious, yet open to humor and lightness.
In striving to create “safe spaces” for my private coaching and retreat attendees, past clients report that they get what they need from our work: