We had the good fortune of connecting with Leanne Tibiatowski and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leanne, how do you think about risk, and what role has taking risks played in your life/career?
Courage and bold action have led me to the most incredible personal and professional opportunities. I have learned that to risk IS to live. And when I say “risk”, I’m not referring to adrenalin-based wreckless action. I mean the type of risk that takes you out of your comfort zone just enough that you feel a bit of fear, yet you know in your heart that the values-based risk you’re about to take is the right and best next step.
I was a single mother for the majority of my professional life. Over the years some of my most game-changing choices were perceived as high-risk. For example, I let go of a corporate marketing job for a part-time contract position at a holistic health school when I was the sole provider for my then baby… that turned a few heads. It also blossomed into the launchpad for great self-discovery and success. I was following my heart and my passion. Each time I have done that, the outcomes have exceeded my expectations, enriched my base of knowledge, and increased my happiness in significant ways. I’m grateful for the times that I’ve bravely chosen to free-fall while leaning into the possibilities my heart was leading me to.
Recently, risk-taking has taken a huge turn and looks very different. This time authenticity and vulnerability lead the way. I have begun to share the very personal story of my recent recovery from delayed-onset PTSD. It’s not easy but I feel like I have to… giving voice to the type of trauma that commonly ignites shame helps the many others in a similar situation to not feel alone. As I rise, I offer my hand to others to offer support and share all that I learned. This is perhaps the most courageous season of risk-taking in my life. Our collective prefers to “get over” trauma, I’m doing the opposite by shining light on it, and it feels risky all the time. You know what though, it is liberating, empowering, and seems to be paving the way to a whole new expression of myself as a person and professional.
Please tell us more about your work. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
I’ve had an eclectic and rewarding career path. Through it all, authenticity, adaptability, courage, and faith have helped me succeed when riding even the most tumultuous waves of life, personally and professionally. This applies now more than ever with the uncertainty and changing business landscape due to Covid-19. In the last Voyager article, I shared my passion project Together We Rise, we are a diverse intergenerational community of identifying women coming together for events, “sister-circles”, and workshops. https://together-we-rise.com/
Our gatherings, now virtual, are a safe space to be authentic, give and find support, make new friends, and network with amazing women. It is incredibly fulfilling to be a conduit for meaningful connections between women. Currently, on Zoom, these offerings are available to women around the world. Our last session had attendees in Peru and Scotland!
Now on the other side of acute C-PTSD, during a pandemic, I have the opportunity to reinvent myself professionally once again. In addition to the Together We Rise women’s work, I have been exploring how to help others by sharing what I’ve learned about navigating trauma. My vision includes peer support groups, educational written and video content, speaking, and workshops. In2clarity.com is the website where you can learn more about my story and stay tuned to see how this new chapter unfolds.
You might be wondering why I want to take the risk of telling such a private story. The answer is easy. I lived in the clutches of unresolved trauma for most of my life without awareness. Now free and feeling more alive than ever before, it’s time to pay it forward. I learned so much about trauma and some of the powerful tools available to support recovery, I feel I have to share. If I can support even one person dealing with trauma in themselves or someone they love in a new way, it’s all worth it. I’m following my heart again because it feels right. I’m not sure how it will all unfold or where I’ll land, but I’m excited and feel on-purpose.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love this question and wow, the pandemic sure limits us these days. I’m a life-long ocean lover and recently surf therapy pretty much saved my life, so a visit with me is water-oriented. A morning walk and surf check at Ocean Beach Dog’s Beach with my pup Shaka happens on the daily, it’s a great way to start the day. Coastal sightseeing in the form of a drive along the coast hopefully with some time spent in the water, it’s gorgeous and postcard-perfect. For shopping, a visit to Bird’s Surf Shed. San Diego is a mecca for surf culture, and this spot is iconic, it’s basically a museum…full of history, stories, and aloha. There’s so much good food in San Diego. I like to keep it local. OB Noodle House has the best wings ever, their unique seasoning is da bomb. Watching the sun dip into the ocean at Sunset Cliffs, aka my sanctuary, is like medicine for a weary soul. Times are a bit rugged for most of us lately, checking out the waves and hanging out in this special section of nature is inspiring.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout goes to Natalie Small, LMFT. She is the founder and Executive Director of Groundswell Community Project. Natalie designed a surf therapy model that straight-up saved my life two years ago.
Groundswell Community Project, Surf-therapy programs https://www.
Learn more about Natalie, surf therapy and my story on the TODAY Show. https://www.today.com/video/
I participated in her 8-week surf therapy program for women experiencing trauma at the most difficult time in my life. Learning to surf in a therapeutic setting with a mental health professional gracefully infusing trauma-management techniques in a safe space helped me rise in a way I’d never experienced before. How do you say thank you for that? There are no words… So I step in to contribute how I can to pay it forward. Now I volunteer as much as I can with the organization. I’m out at the water with new women to the program and I speak with Natalie, telling my story as a way to educate and support others who may know someone or are personally dealing with trauma. Meeting Natalie was a catalyst in my life. As a survivor of multiple traumas including a sexual assault suppressed for decades, I’ve been able to use surfing as a tool to find my way home, to feel comfortable in my own body, to love my self as I love the ocean. Thank you, Natalie, I’m sending so many grateful waves of love your way!