Transcending a past clouded with sexual abuse, bulimia and struggles with perfectionism, Ruth McGinnis is now breathing freely. The accomplished violinist, wellness instructor and author candidly outlines her journey to wholeness in the book Breathing Freely and during a recent interview.


"The concept of breathing freely - the gift of breathing freely - means feeling comfortable inside your own skin," McGinnis explains. "For me, it means being able to connect with my bloodline, my history, my family - to be able to be present with all the things I had to recover from, including sexual abuse."


In her 30s, McGinnis embarked on a journey to reconnect with the girl she once was. "Along the path, I found emotional resolution, returned to my childhood faith, and charted a new course in my creative career, more in keeping with my true, God-designed gifts."


And gifted she is.  A violinist/fiddler with a master's degree from the Julliard School of Music, McGinnis has performed and recorded over the years with folk/bluegrass legend John Hartford, Amy Grant, Chet Atkins, Michael W. Smith and Vince Gill. In January 2001, McGinnis released her first solo recording project, Songs for the Good Life. Last October, she completed production on a companion CD to her book Breathing Freely. This instrumental recording features an eclectic mix of Celtic, sacred, classical and Americana tunes.


A self-described "Renaissance Woman," McGinnis is just as talented with a pen as she is with the bow. Her first book, Living the Good Life, compiles tips to help women live healthier, more abundant lives. She dons her personal trainer hat as she guides readers through lessons on exercise, diet, rest, balance and spiritual connectedness.


In the first chapter, McGinnis reveals her battle with bulimia:  "I became acquainted with this struggle my first year in college. Armed with the unrealistic dream of becoming a concert violinist, a dream I'd fostered since the age of 8, I walked into my freshman year with a long list of self-imposed expectations. I tried to adhere to my well-laid plans, which included carrying a double major in music and English, practicing three hours a day, improving my complexion, and attracting the perfect husband. But I began to bump into my human limitations.


"My tendency to eat for emotional comfort, something that started in high school, was catching up with me. ... By the end of my freshmen year, I'd gained nearly 30 pounds and was miserable with myself."


Inspired by the likes of Jane Fonda and other fitness pioneers of the 1970s, McGinnis began to run as a way to lose weight. "The day I put on a pair of running shoes marked the beginning of a lifelong love of being physically active," she writes. "It also made for another achievement to add to my list: physical perfection." What followed was a 10-year quest to be "model-thin." She experimented with all kinds of diets, fasting and other unhealthy extremes.