Nov. 17, 2016
Vol.14, Issue 9
In light of recent campaign rhetoric, and election unrest, I think we can all agree that a little (or a lot!) of kindness is in order, so today I’m featuring an Oregon speaker whom I met recently. Linda M. Cohen is the author of 1,000 Mitzvahs — How Small Acts of Kindness Can Heal, Inspire and Change Your Life.
The idea of kindness is certainly not new, but at this time on the planet it couldn’t be more appropriate. It’s the perfect time to bring it to the surface, as we can all do small, kind things in our daily lives, that spread a little life, a little hope, and a little generosity — in the lives of others.
1,000 Mitzvahs – Making a Difference with Small Acts of Kindness
Linda never intended or expected to write a book, become a speaker or catalyst for a kindness movement. She was a mother, wife and entrepreneur living in suburban Portland, Oregon.
In December 2006, she lost her father, Peter Rabow, after an eight-month battle with lung cancer. Life as she knew it came to a screeching halt. She felt numb in body and mind. In order to cope, she had to take time out to contemplate life and death — a time she would later call her “spiritual sabbatical.”
Before he passed they had worked on repairing their damaged relationship, and they had discussed the idea at length of the mitzvah or tzedakah — the idea of donating money to charity in his memory. Rather than flowers, he wanted friends and family to make donations to “venues that aid people to be the best they can be and help them grow.”
“Perhaps it was the seeds of that conversation that sparked the simple thought that awoke me in the middle of the night about a month after his death,” she said. “As I contemplated how meaningful it was that people had donated in the name of my father, in essence, allowing his generous spirit to live on, I was inspired to begin a mitzvah project of my own to honor my father’s memory.”
She came up with the goal of performing 1,000 mitzvahs. The word mitzvah is derived from the Hebrew root tzavta, meaning “attachment.” Linda chose to focus on the category of mitzvahs centered on doing acts of loving kindness.
“When we act on a mitzvah, we are creating a bond or a further attachment in our relationship with God,” she said.
Her intention from the beginning was to use this concept of doing good deeds as a way to honor her father’s memory. She thought that the project would allow her to help others in small ways and create good feelings to compensate for the pangs of grief and sadness she was experiencing.
When she shared the idea with her husband the next morning, he suggested they create a blog to track her progress. She posted her first blog at www.1000mitzvahs on January 17, 2007.
Before she started the blog, she had never considered herself to be a writer. She quickly found out the power of her words to spread a good idea, and soon discovered that the project was something that transcended herself, her family, and her religion.
Writing the blog held personal benefits for her as well. It allowed her to share her thoughts and feelings as she moved through her grief in a very concrete way. She had stumbled on to a very powerful combination for processing grief.
“I felt a very deep knowing that my dad and I were on this journey together somehow. The project allowed me to think about him a great deal and to share stories about him, as well.”
She accomplished her goal of 1,000 mitzvahs in less than two and a half years. “I discovered that, aside from the moral virtue of doing kind acts, being kind is good for your health and happiness. The giver of kindness receives as much benefit or more than the recipient.”
Her experience led to writing the book, and then speaking about it. She brings her fundraising background, extensive volunteer service experience and unique perspective from having performed 1,000 mitzvahs, to inspire and motivate her audiences — the ROI of kindness.
A skilled storyteller with a simple, powerful and entrancing message, Linda is vulnerable and authentic with her audiences. She knows firsthand about suicide and loss, mental health issues and the power to choose how these life experiences shape us.
She has turned her experiences into lessons that your audience can implement into immediate action. Her presentations are personalized with a message that is personal, powerful, and joyous and that resonates with her listeners. You can see for yourself how moving she is in this short video of her TEDx talk.
Talks like her TEDx presentation have sparked kindness movements in organizations and schools across the country and will inspire your audience to add deeds of kindness to their daily lives.
To learn more about bringing Linda your community, give me a call at 503-699-5031 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Turning the Tables: Receiving the Gift of Kindness
In early September, when my husband and I were on vacation in the Wallowa Mountains in eastern Oregon, we were the recipients of a spontaneous and unexpected act of kindness ourselves.
On our last day, we’d made the long, scenic drive over to Hell’s Canyon. Anticipating a late return, we’d planned to eat out at the Silver Lake Bistro in downtown Joseph, famous for its wood-fired pizzas.
When we cruised into town just before 7 p.m., I bolted in the door to use the restroom, while my husband took Bella for an amble (or a doggie version of my restroom break).
Inside it smelled heavenly and felt warm and welcoming —perfect for our night out. Immediately, the waiter greeted me, and quickly, albeit apologetically, he told me that they were closing! My face fell — I was so disappointed, I was almost up to arguing about it. But I needed to use the bathroom, so I headed directly in that direction. Dang, it smelled good in that restaurant. Closing at 7 p.m. on a Friday night? Huh?
I headed outside to share the bad news with my husband. There Jim was chatting with a couple who were admiring and petting Bella. I was blurting that we’d been shut out — no wood-fired pizza for us tonite.
The woman heard me and immediately extended their take-out box to us. She said, “Here, take this. There are three pieces of pizza in here — two vegetarian and one meat.”
We were a bit taken aback. We were not needy — just hungry, disappointed and married to the idea of wood-fired pizza. We declined. They insisted.
“We are so stuffed, we definitely don’t need this. Please take it and enjoy.” She kept extending her hand. So I took it, and thanked them as graciously as I could.
We got in the car and looked at a restaurant list, but we weren’t really interested any of them. We wanted wood-fired pizza, and we had it in our hands. So we drove to the campground, made a salad, heated our pizza in a cast iron frying pan over a wood fire, and devoured it. We were happy and satisfied.
This act of selfless kindness is an experience I will always remember. We don’t know those people’s names, and they have no idea how wonderful their gift was. Sweet. Generous. We loved Joseph Oregon, but this memory makes it especially the sweet.
For your well being, an act of kindness is good for your health and happiness. Happy Thanksgiving to you!
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