“Take time for yourself.” With Beau Henderson & Rukhsi Sharif

Heal ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally by taking the time for nourishment, exercise and self-care to release stress and tensions from our lives and strengthen ourselves to be able to help others. I make sure to eat legumes and vegetables daily as well as to go for walks out in nature as often as I […]

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Heal ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally by taking the time for nourishment, exercise and self-care to release stress and tensions from our lives and strengthen ourselves to be able to help others. I make sure to eat legumes and vegetables daily as well as to go for walks out in nature as often as I can to reinvigorate myself, so that I can become strong again to fulfill the needs of others

As part of our series about ‘5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country’, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rukhsi Sharif.

Rukhsi Sharif, which is the shortened version of her full name, Rukhsar Sharif, is a caring business leader, counselor, author as well as the creator and owner of Creatifecundity, Incorporated , a new company offering affordable online creative counseling and free collaboration forum services. Rukhsi has a doctorate in Educational Theory and Practice from Binghamton University with research on, publications and practice of creativity and innovation. At Binghamton University, she loved tutoring Educational Opportunity Program students and students of diverse backgrounds in writing to empower their self-expression. She also has Master’s degrees in Education and Government as well as a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from an array of public and private higher education institutions in the United States. Her previous career experiences have included serving corporate and educational establishments and non-profit and international organizations. Past experiences have moved her towards her destiny to nurture people with creative counseling and collaborations for their enduring well-being and fulfillment.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

Thank you immensely for your consideration and kindness in taking the time to interview me! I have an unconventional background as I grew up in different countries around the world that were either undergoing conflict or post-conflict phases due to my father’s international employment with various United Nations organizations. I lived my first year in Ghana and about four years each of my childhood in Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia respectively. Following my high school and college years in the United States, I lived in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, for about a year and a half. Thus, from an early age and throughout my childhood into young adulthood, I was exposed to diverse cultures and developed an open-mindedness towards them as well as an embracement of diversity and multiculturalism.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

A book that I have cherished since the day I first read it in middle school is A Girl Can Dream by Betty Cavanna. Cavanna’s book tremendously inspires me because the emotional transformation and empowerment of her female protagonist, Loretta (Rette) Larkin, from feelings of unworthiness and insecurity to self-esteem and fulfillment in her unique identity mirrors my own emotional development through the struggles of my life. In this book, Rette is a high school student in the United States in 1948 with feelings of inadequacy as she does not conform to the societal standard of gentle and genteel conduct imposed on girls and women since her natural demeanor is to be spirited and adventurous, which society considered to be masculine qualities at the time. However, she soon defies this societal standard by taking the initiative to write and later submitting her essay on the dream of flying for a school competition as the winner would have the opportunity to actually learn how to fly a plane. In the process of deciding to write, actually writing and submitting her essay for the competition, she becomes empowered as she challenges the societal stereotype of males being the only suitable candidates to compete for a prize of flying lessons as well as the stereotype of the non-participatory coquettish and demure female in order to express her genuine identity through her expansive outlook and thrill of discovery. Rette’s challenging of the status quo and societal standard as well as empowerment resonate deeply with me as I too am confronting the status quo and societal standard of the selfishness and egocentrism of our prevailing entrepreneurial and business culture as necessary for business success to transform it to a collaborative and mutually supportive culture where all business owners and their businesses can prosper. I have had the harrowing experience of losing my first business largely due to a lack of support for aspiring entrepreneurs, especially when they have unorthodox perspectives on business leadership or an inability to afford exorbitant payments to incorporate their businesses.

With my current business, I am contributing to changing the selfish and egocentric business culture towards collaboration and mutual support with the free Creative Collaboration Forum platform on my business website, www.creatifecundity.com.This platform represents the transformation to a caring and cooperative business culture as it partners people of diverse career backgrounds to mutually support one another in the areas of career, entrepreneurship as well as collective actions for the advancement of our society and world. Moreover, just as the book’s protagonist, Rette, wrote about the expansion of perspective and discovery that flying afforded her, owning my own business ignites within me a recognition of an exalted calling in life where I can heal and nurture human beings through my creative counseling and collaborations.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

A favorite life lesson quote that I recently originated is: “Hear, understand and heed the advice of your intuition as your internal guide towards reassurance, comfort and bliss.” The formulation of this quote came to me as I was undergoing an intensive reflection on my life journey, the obstacles I faced and the lengthy process I experienced until I finally brought my business into this world. When I attempted to actualize my first business, I conformed myself to standard initiation and formation of business procedures, such as having a thorough business plan with deadlines, for the security of my team as they subscribed to the conventional approach of business establishment. However, when that first business did not pan out due to a lack of support for aspiring entrepreneurs and an unimplementable technological platform, I abandoned these conventional business establishment procedures in favor of an unconventional, fluid and adaptable approach to creating my current Creatifecundity, Incorporated business and business website, which harmonizes with my nature.

During my current business creation, I renounced the business plan and deadlines and replaced them with my internal intuition to creatively guide me through my business creation as I had begun to realize from past experience that my future plans never came to fruition in the way that I envisioned them; however, my abilities to create and invent in the moment did and allowed me to bring even better prospects into existence than I could have ever imagined. Therefore, I took a slow-paced and exploratory approach to developing my website and creating it with photographs of the natural aspect of my existence that continuously instilled confidence and joy within me during times of stagnation and melancholy: the rejuvenating lush green color of grasses and leaves to represent the renewed well-being and ease offered by my creative counseling and collaboration services, the energetic dash of a scarlet-colored cardinal descending in flight to suggest the personal comfort and fulfillment offered by my counseling sessions and collaboration forums, two cottontail rabbits’ deepening attachment towards each other expressed through rhythmic movement to indicate the restorative affection and devotion accorded by my couples creative counseling and a flock of birds finding rest and refuge on the roof outside my window to signify the conflict resolution and harmony transmitted from my group creative counseling.

Even when collaborating with Benjamin Preiser, Binghamton University, Class of 2022, brilliant programmer of the Creatifecundity, Inc. website Creative Collaboration Forums, we undertook a “go with the flow” process to developing the Creative Collaboration Forums, relying fundamentally on experimentation and trial and error where I adjusted the forum content to reflect Benjamin’s forum coding and he learned from website limitations to invent his own coding for the partnerships between folk of diverse careers to arise. Hence, the inspiration for my favorite life lesson quote, intuition, was my internal guide which carried me towards the reassurance, comfort and bliss of my completed business website and business creation.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I define leadership as a developmental process where we impress our identities through self-expression and actions in relation to others and the environment in our world.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a series of unprecedented crises. So many of us see the news and ask how we can help. We’d love to talk about the steps that each of us can take to help heal our county, in our own way. Which particular crisis would you like to discuss with us today? Why does that resonate with you so much?

The particular crisis that I am discussing with you today is the diversity/inclusion challenge because of my profound love for people of all backgrounds and yearning to witness harmonious co-existence between them for their well-being and happiness. This deep-rooted affection springs from my own background of living in different countries and befriending their local as well as international populations as I elaborated in my response to your question on how I grew up. To this day, I carry the spirits of the diverse people, cultures and environments from Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States that have unified within me as a multiculturally interwoven mosaic.

This is likely a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis inexorably evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?

I believe that this diversity/inclusion crisis inevitably evolved and grew to the boiling and incendiary point that it is now because of the unaddressed pent-up frustrations of not only people of color in underserved or marginalized communities but also youth of every background witnessing their plight and the injustices of their mistreatment as neglected, rejected and invisible members of the fabric of United States society since the colonization of North America. The younger generations overall in the United States during this new millennium era have had access to more sources of information and education from their exposure to technology, online media and the digitalized culture, so they are more aware of and connected to the lives of others, especially those of people of color and the recurring cycles of deprivation and pain they suffer from through generations.

Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience either working on this cause or your experience being impacted by it? Can you share a story with us?

Even prior to my business journey, I worked for the diversity/inclusion cause when I tutored university students of diverse backgrounds, including first generation college students and students from underserved communities, in the Educational Opportunity Program at Binghamton University in upstate New York, United States. The focus of my tutoring was in the subject of writing, so I individually supported students to apply a variety of vocabulary terms and insights in expressing their identities through their writing and sharing their unique voices with the world. For example, I remember suggesting for one of my tutees to indicate words describing her personality, such as persevering, resourceful, hard-working, insightful and intelligent among others, on her résumé to share her identity traits with prospective employers, so they could personally know and acknowledge her as a human being instead of dismissively treat her as a mere job candidate. In another instance, I recall discussing the scene of Tom Hanks speaking to his volleyball in the movie, Cast Away, to my other student to illustrate the idea of how feelings of being alive within us can be reflected by the life that we see kindling within others. Through sharing this insight, I hoped to help my student not only with an idea for his Africana Studies essay, but also to be inspired by his own thoughts and his own self as much as he was by others. As these examples portray, that tutoring space allowed me to express my own identity of nurturing and caring for young adults of diverse backgrounds by empowering their self-expression, so they could not only be included, but acknowledged, respected and loved in the world. This pivotal experience set the foundation for my business creation and Creative Collaboration Forums to serve the needs of and care for people from diverse career and socioeconomic backgrounds and those overlooked by virtue of the underrepresentation of their career status.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country”. Kindly share a story or example for each.

To proactively help heal our country, each of us can take these following five steps illustrated with my examples: 1) Heal ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally by taking the time for nourishment, exercise and self-care to release stress and tensions from our lives and strengthen ourselves to be able to help others. I make sure to eat legumes and vegetables daily as well as to go for walks out in nature as often as I can to reinvigorate myself, so that I can become strong again to fulfill the needs of others; 2) Assist those closest to us whom we can readily access without jeopardizing our health, such as parents, siblings, families, extended families and neighbors in our communities. I help out my mother at home with household errands, such as carrying hefty bottled water upstairs or drawing the blinds, so that she is not burdened with having to complete household duties on her own. Taking care of those closest to us is helpful practice for taking care of others in the outer world; 3) Make prices of our products and services affordable to people from all socioeconomic backgrounds, including people of financially struggling backgrounds, so they have an equal opportunity to live comfortably. I have made my small business’s online creative counseling services affordable to people of diverse socioeconomic circumstances, including those of underserved or marginalized populations as they need and deserve equal support to flourish in life; 4) Engage in widespread online and social media outreach and communication with compassion to support others and help them solve their problems. and 5) Join together to not only fulfill our own needs and interests, but also contribute to larger causes for the betterment of our collective society and environment.

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but what can we do to make these ideas a reality? What specific steps can you suggest to make these ideas actually happen? Are there things that the community can do to help you promote these ideas?

In the broader context, well-to-do members of the community and members with resources and means can also individually and jointly take action to address the material shortages and deprivation of people of color and folk of underserved or financially struggling socioeconomic backgrounds by hiring them in professions of their choice or supporting their entrepreneurial endeavors to work together with them on solving societal and environmental issues and paying them ample salaries to sustain themselves and their loved ones. Our community needs to perennially and actively embrace and intertwine diversity with all layers of our social fabric as its comprehensive integration is a testament to its utmost value in our lives.

We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?

Though we are undergoing an extremely challenging time now, I am optimistic and have faith that the diversity/inclusion challenge can eventually be resolved because of the widespread proactive engagement of United States (US) youth in advocating for a just and humane society for all who have been neglected and oppressed, namely people of color. The youth’s massive protests against police brutality and message for justice for people of color have impacted people of older generations, who are taking note and becoming more emotionally sensitive to the treatment of people of color at all levels of US society. This expansion of emotional sensitivity opens a gateway to translation into action where people of color are equitably treated and respected through being hired in occupations of their choice or supported in their entrepreneurship and allocated salaries that allow them and their loved ones to thrive and prosper in all areas of life.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

I would encourage young people and youth to make a positive impact on our environment and society as I am doing because of the emotional joy and blissful fulfillment that they would be dispersing expansively out into the world as well as within themselves as that shared elation and bliss would be reflected back to them through the well-being and growth of the very environment and society they have supported. I would explain to them the tremendous import of their helping others and the environment as a celebration of their identities and legacies being imprinted on the world for its enduring wellness, security, abundance and advancement.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I recently came upon Justin Bariso’s article, “MacKenzie Bezos Wrote an Amazing Letter Promising to Give Away Half Her Fortune. “In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share,” wrote Bezos.”, on Ms. MacKenzie Bezos, US American novelist, activist and philanthropist, and was surprised and thrilled to find that, like her, I am a literary fiction author and published the Kindle edition of my fiction book, “Bukavu”, on Amazon, which is the website/company that she helped to create! Aside from this shared passion of authorship, Ms. Bezos espouses the same principles of caring, nurturing, generosity and compassion that I uphold through my business and services to others. I would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with Ms. MacKenzie Bezos, along with you the interviewers, as I believe we can all learn from each other about just how much leading through selflessness is in itself an imprint of our own selves upon the world and how we can collaborate in spreading this message of altruistic leadership to people at all societal echelons to engage them in perpetuating the health, safety, prosperity and comfort of all our fellow human beings and world environments from the present time to the future!

How can our readers follow you online?

Your readers are welcome to follow me online at the following links:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rukhsi-sharif-359ab365/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/creatifecundity

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6HlUlAOnCBNR8Lgx3hGkyw/featured?view_as=subscriber

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

I am tremendously appreciative of your interviewing me and wish you health, prosperity and happiness!

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