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Have you ever let self-doubt hold you back from starting something you really wanted to do?
If so, this interview will share the story of how I overcame my own self-doubt and anxiety when starting this podcast. It'll inspire you with real life stories about the power of kindness and you'll learn a few tips to “BeKindr” to ourselves, each other and the world.
So allow me to officially introduce our very first guest. She's got an impressive bio, but the first thing you should know is she's a PARKer, someone who Performs Acts of Random Kindness, just like you and me!
Dr. Eva Ritvo is a psychiatrist with more than 25 years of experience practicing in Miami Beach, Florida. She's the founder of BeKindr, a global movement to foster more kindness in the world. She’s also the co-founder of the Bold Beauty Project, a nonprofit that pairs women with disabilities, with award-winning photographers and creates inspirational art shows all across the US.
She's an international speaker, frequently seen on TV, radio and in print. She's co-authored several books including the BeKindr book, which I'm honored to have contributed my own story to!
Which reminds me stay till the end of the episode because we've got a special giveaway, but you have to be part of my Kind Qrew. It's quick and free to join. So do it now at www.marlyq.com and with that said, thank you for making time to be kind. Let's listen!
When I first announced that I wanted to start this podcast and actually answer the call to grow and magnify our message of kindness, the first question that I received from one of my friends on social media was … how do you overcome self-doubt?
And I felt like such a phony or a fraud because in that moment I felt so much self-doubt about starting a podcast, about using my voice to spread this message in a bigger way and as a new mom, I'm like, am I even going to have time to commit to starting a new podcast? How can I give somebody else advice about overcoming self-doubt when I am riddled with it? And in that moment, I realized I need to be kinder to myself and who pops into my mind when I think of being kinder is my good friend, Dr. Eva Ritvo, who I picked up the phone to text immediately. I happen to be in Miami Beach leading a yoga and meditation session at an event and I texted her, “Hey Eva, are you available for lunch by any chance”? And within an hour, Eva had rearranged her schedule and made the spontaneous lunch happen. That lunch was the spark of actually starting to record this podcast. And I am so grateful to have Dr. Eva Ritvo here at my home recording our very first podcast interview.
So, Eva, if you would be so kind as to share, your insight on how to overcome self-doubt and how you helped me overcome self-doubt in that one hour or so lunch session.
Dr. Eva: Well I think you were going through a very natural transition. You've always had a very productive, busy professional life and I think you had overcome most of your self-doubt and you're out there and spreading messages of kindness and speaking to people and inspiring so many people. But then you did a turn and you got pregnant and you had your son. And I know that your choice was to dedicate your whole first year to your son.
So getting back to something is always difficult and it's a really difficult transition for women who've been in a professional role and then switched to motherhood to integrate that. And each woman, you know, comes up with a different answer for that and that answer can certainly vary throughout your children's lives. But the initial transition back to work is always difficult. I think giving yourself space to have self-doubt, to be insecure, to not know what the right thing is really important because you've never been in this position before.
And we talked at lunch about how to balance those two things and I'm really proud of you that you decided to go forward and share your message of kindness because now is the time we're about to be in a new decade in a very, very new world. And as you know, I'm very committed to kindness, because I think that's really the solution to a lot of these complex problems that we're facing as a society. I also think it was the solution to your problem that day at lunch was just to be kinder to yourself and give yourself space for being anxious and not knowing how to balance your motherhood responsibilities, your work life. And you also have a very important marriage, which deserves time and nurturance, and you've got a big extended family and you love yoga and working out and you've got lots of friends. So it is genuinely hard to balance all these things.
Marly Q: Well, I really appreciate you being the spark of getting me out of my own way. And just by taking a small action, you start to gain confidence and you start to empower your voice. So I'm really grateful for that. And you weren't just the spark of this, that's happening right now, but you are also the spark of me putting into writing my story of kindness .Why I believe that kindness is your superpower. Why I spend all of my time and my professional career the last 15 years or so, speaking, creating events and teaching and even the yoga is about self-love and kindness.
So your book, BeKindr book was the first time that I ever put into writing this story that later became my Ted talk “Kindness is your Superpower”. So I know we started off talking about me here, but I definitely want to switch gears and talk about you because the work that you do in your profession for the last 30 years, I'd love for you to share about the work that you do, but also how you sparked to the BeKindr global initiative, how that all came about.
Dr. Eva: Well, thank you Marly. It is a pleasure to be here with you and to be speaking about this topic. So backing up a little bit, I am a psychiatrist, as you said in your introduction. I've been seeing patients for almost 30 years now. And at times I like to get out of my office and like you've, you know, find a bigger voice and a bigger message and I think kindness is something that's universal. And over the last several years as technology has infiltrated our lives, I think kindness is getting altered. In some ways, we're kinder than ever. Now all of a sudden, we know about 7 billion people and we know about traumas, catastrophes all over the world. And when something happens, an earthquake, a fire, money can rush in from everywhere. People rush into help from everywhere.
I think there's a real raising of consciousness around equal rights due to technology and everything we know. So I think overall technology has been very positive, but the negative is, it's removing us from our one to one interactions. And unfortunately, I think we're losing some of the kindness that needs to be in our day to day lives. So my initial plan was to write this book about kindness, and I was actually inspired to do that because of kindness that I received.
08:00 Marly Q: Please share, please share your kind stranger story!
Dr. Eva: You and I both know that kindness is so powerful and when we receive it, it's so touching. And then we want to give back. So the book is my way of giving back and it's dedicated to a man named Louie and of course to my daughters as well. Who've taught me so much about kindness. But Louie and I met actually in 2008, a very similar way to you and I talking, but not face to face. We were on radio. He's in Cleveland. I'm based in Miami beach. And we talked about my previous book, The Beauty Prescription, and he started the interview with a very open ended and he said, “tell me about yourself”.
And at that moment in 2008, that was actually a very tough question for me because it was about yeah, about six weeks before my 20-year marriage ended, and we were sort of in the thick of trying to decide what to do. And ironically, I had this book coming out on women's empowerment, right, “the complete formula for looking and feeling beautiful”. And yeah, I didn't feel any of those. So I did my radio interview and kind of muddled through it.
And at the end he said, “would you ever like to come back on the show or would you like to talk off air”? And that sentence ended up changing my life because over the next 11 years, it's been 11 years now, he has been really my greatest supporter. And at the time of my struggles going through the separation, going through the divorce, I would picture him like that life vest thing they throw in the water. And you kind of grab on and then they pull you back to shore. He had a gift with words. We actually still have not met in person. Our entire relationship has been on the phone through texting, on the air multiple times throughout now, the decade. And Louie was my kind stranger.
10:00 And he said that he could feel my pain and identified with that and just wanted to help and was so helpful to me. And I thought, well this is sort of strange cause I do have friends. I actually had a therapist, I have parents, kids. Why is a complete strangers so helpful to me? Why would he take his time to do that? Why would I open up to him? And how did that situation become so transformative? So being a curious person, scientist, I asked for stories from other people and in a pretty short time got about 220 of them.
Marly Q: Yes. Mine being one of them.
Dr. Eva: Absolutely. The hard part was not publishing all of them. That was really tough. But sorting through. And then the idea was to just let everybody know how impactful kindness can be. And it can be something very, very small. You know, as there's one beautiful story in here about a girl who had just come from the grave site of seeing her father and she went into Einstein's bagel and he gave a smile and kind words and it just meant everything to her at that moment. Or it can be really complex things. Like one man who decided to educate kids in the Philippines, and he ended up educating almost a hundred children in the Philippines, not just through elementary, but many of them through college and graduate school. So he now, on Father’s Day, literally gets cards and Facebook messages from around the world, from all of his surrogate children.
So kindness can be something tiny, something huge, something complicated, but it's something so powerful…always so powerful.
Marly Q: Absolutely. 100%. I remember, that's how we connected initially is a friend, a mutual friend of ours shared with me your call for stories and she said, “Marly, you've got to put your story in writing and put it part of this book”. And at first, I was like, my story is so small. Like it was really just basically this one sentence that my fourth-grade teacher told me that when I was 10 years old, really made an impact in that particular moment and changed the course of my life.
Because I started to believe that kindness was, in fact, a superpower. And it could be as easy for a child to start Performing Acts of Random Kindness and making a difference in the world, and you don't need any money right? That's when I talk about the currency of kindness, a lot of times people feel that they can't make a difference because they don't have the money or, you know, in order to be a philanthropist, you need to donate thousands and millions of dollars to have your name on a wall or on a plaque. And it's really not about that at all. So I'm just so grateful that you created not just your book, but a platform for people to be able to share an essence, promote all kinds of kindness makes an impact. So tell me a little bit about how the BeKindr book and the launch somehow sparked to this global initiative. How did that happen?
Dr. Eva: Well, the book came out in November of 2017 and at the time I had different people assisting me. One whose name was Patrice Samara and she was down from New York. And as you know, New Yorkers are always thinking big and changing the world cause they're New Yorkers. So we had about 300 people at the launch and right before I was about to give my speech that you introduced me, right before my speech with all these eyes on me, Patrice hands me a poster that says BeKindr global initiative and she says, “here, go ahead and announce this”! And I am like what? She goes, "Yeah, this isn't a book launch. We're launching a global initiative."
Marly Q: And I saw your face. "Global initiative?"
Dr. Eva: Talk about self-doubt. I'm like, "what is she talking about?" But I was literally in front of everybody now with this poster in my hand. So I'm one of those people who always tells the truth. So I just told the truth. And I said, well, I just got handed this poster so you're all learning with me…
We're now all part of the BeKindr global initiative.
And that's the point. Obviously, it's not something I could do. It's not something you can do. It's something that we can do. And that was 2017, now we are almost 2020, we are in 2020 and I think consciousness has shifted that everybody sort of gets that and this climate crisis has a silver lining, which makes us recognize, wait a minute, we actually are all one family. We actually all have one home and therefore everyone has to contribute. And I don't think we've been thinking that way. I think we've all been thinking very siloed, which is, "Hey, I want to drive here, I want to fly here, I want to get this plastic, whatever." And we're not really thinking about the bigger impact of our behaviors. And the climate crisis has given us an opportunity to really say, "wait a second. It's not true. It's not true that what I do doesn't impact you. It does impact you." And we do need to think about us as a whole, as humanity, as a whole. What are we doing? Where are we going? How do we want that to look? And you can see the kids get it. The kids who've grown up in this flat world with digital technology, they get it. Older people, it's sort of a new paradigm for us. So I think that kindness is something that people are understanding at a more deep and fundamental level, even just in the couple of years since this global initiative was launched. And I see that as very positive.
Marly Q: I agree. I agree. What I love about the BeKindr book as well as the initiative is that really the philosophy behind it is you are encouraging people to think more about kindness.
Dr. Eva: And that's it. And it's really important that you just said that Marly, because that means that every single one of your listeners now is already part of the Be Kindr global initiative.
Dr. Eva: You're on board. Because it's what you said, it's not about buying or giving or doing, it's about mental state, about altering your mental state so that you see things through a lens of kindness. And the reason I say all of your listeners are on board is because they already chose to listen to a podcast on kindness. So clearly, they're part of the BeKindr Global Initiative. And then for me as a psychiatrist, it's really important that I don't tell people what to do because that would really go against my profession. You know, somebody comes in, well, you know, should I marry them? Should I take this job? Should I move here? The last thing your psychiatrist should tell you is, what to do. They should help you explore what you want to do and make the best choice for you.
So that's sort of the same way I approach kindness. I'm never going to tell somebody what to do. I'm just going to say you ought to think about it a little more and maybe function from that space and see how it feels for you. And usually it feels pretty good. So then people want to do it again and again and it becomes really reinforcing. But for every single listener out there, you can take home something different. One can decide to smile more. One can decide to go to yoga like you and I are both really doing, another can decide to be vegetarian to help the environment and other can write a check for $1 million if they have that skill and ability. What's important is that they start to see the whole and how they are connected to the whole.
And I was at a recent political rally where I heard an old quote that I just love, which is "we all do well when we all do well."
Marly Q: Yes, yes.
Dr. Eva: And if you embrace that, then your choices become different.
Marly Q: Right. Through the lens and the perspective and the mindset of kindness.
Dr. Eva: That's it.
Marly Q: And your BeKindr global initiative talks about not just kindness towards others, right? You've got kindness towards self.
Dr. Eva: Well self is number one and I think it's really important that our listeners hear that.
Because sometimes people give when they're depleted and that ends up backfiring and not working. As adults, not children, as adults each of us is responsible for our self and we're responsible for our own life. And no one really can do that for us unless we're in a debilitated or sick kind of a state. But when we are well, it's our obligation and responsibility to take care of ourselves. And that's the balance you're trying to find now as a mother, because Jude has rewired your brain and has made you think, wait, I got to take care of him before me. I can't take a shower now because he's hungry. Which is true because he's a child and he's your responsibility. But when it comes to your wellbeing, you still have to be in charge. And only you know what that means. How much sleep do you really need? How often do you need to take a break? How much creativity do you need to bring into your life so that you can be your happiest, healthiest, because Jude needs you basically for the rest of both of your lives.
So I think oftentimes new mothers’ kind of get caught up in the sprint of it because it's so difficult at the beginning when you're not sleeping, it's hard to get your proper nutrition. You don't get your time with friends; you're not nourishing your intellectual side with work. So the first year is quite depleting. But once we move past that first year of motherhood, it's vitally important to take care of our self.
In the book I talk about on the airplane. We all know the oxygen mask drops down and we all intuitively get it. Okay, put it on yourself first, because then you can think and then you can problem solve and then you could help people. But it's got to be that way all the time. You've got to be doing what you feel happy, good, productive, rested, safe. And then when you're strong like that, it's very easy to give cause you're almost overflowing.
Marly Q: Yes, absolutely. And it is a practice. It's so easy to kind of fall off that, you know, that train of thought or fall off the wagon if you will, of self-care and self-love and self-kindness. Dr. Eva: I don't think it's embedded in our culture.
Marly Q: I agree.
Dr. Eva: I think we're sort of in a busy kind of a culture that wants you to spend and wants you to look a particular way and Instagram, etc. So I think it's actually hard for almost everybody to do proper self-care because we're pulled in so many directions. So really to do it and to own it and feel good, you know, we're not going to get there seven days a week. It's just not going to happen. So I don't want listeners to think, "Gee, I didn't take good care of myself today. I'm a failure. No."
Marly Q: And how can I be kinder in that moment? We're saying, you know, I failed in that moment. Well now you can make with that awareness, you can make a new choice.
Dr. Eva: You know what, if you get a false start, try something else.
Marly Q: Yeah. What I love about what you're teaching because you are teaching, but it's not something that you need to tell people, like you said, what to do. It's more about just reminding people of who they are. Reminding each other and reminding ourselves of our innate man-kind-ness. And how can we amplify that? How can we share that some more? How can we nurture that in ourselves and in others?
So with that, Eva, I'm so, so grateful again for you, for all that you do, for all that you are and all that you give every single day. Thank you again for being part of our show today. We have to have you come back multiple times because you have so much more to give, so much more to offer and if it's okay with you, we'd love to invite you back for future episodes.
Dr. Eva: Of course, I can't wait to come back.
Marly Q: Well thank you so much.
Dr. Eva: Thank you Marly, it's always a pleasure to be with you and your husband and next time, hopefully Jude too. Thank you.
I hope you found this interview as inspiring as I did. To learn more about the BeKindr Global Movement, visit www.bekindr.com, that's WWW.BEKINDR.COM and share your kind acts and stories on social media using hashtags #Bekindr and #wepark.
Dr. Ritvo generously gave us a signed copy of the BeKindr book to give away to one of you Parker's listening! So if you're not part of my Kind Qrew yet, the time is now to join at www.marlyq.com/kindQrew for your chance to win this & future giveaways.
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