review: Marla Cantrell
By Jill Donovan, Founder of Rustic Cuff Charisma House | 166 pages | $20
I, like most women I know, have an affection for the bracelets made by Rustic Cuff, a wildly popular company in Tulsa. I’ve worn one that has the inscription Let Your Faith Be Bigger Than Your Fear.
I wear it because it reminds me not to freefall into that abyss of imagining the worst that can happen. Economics, relationships, health, it’s a lot to worry about.
That bracelet helps remind me to let the future play out the way the future will, and deal with whatever comes with faith. Still, I had no idea the story behind this piece and the rest of her collection, many with other uplifting messages, until I picked up Jill Donovan’s book, The Kindness Effect. Jill is the creator of Rustic Cuff, a law professor who started this business from her guest bedroom, making bracelets she calls cuffs late at night while she watched a lot of TV.
She started giving the cuffs away to family and friends, and soon others started asking to buy them. From there, her jewelry empire was born.
But this book is not about the wild success of Rustic Cuff. Instead, it’s a meditation on Jill’s life, the ups and downs that made her who she is today. The family and faith that formed her sweet heart. Because for all the success she’s garnered, what lies beneath is a desire to live a life of radical kindness and giving.
In some books of this sort, it feels as if the author is sending a mixed message. The words they write are, “Look at me! Look at what I’ve done!” even as they tell you not to put them on a pedestal. But Jill writes so humbly that that flaw never surfaces. She talks about the kindness shown to her. She talks about hard life lessons she’s learned through her husband’s illnesses and the loss of her father. She talks about rearing two girls whose light and love bowl her over.
Mixed in are examples of irrational giving, both by herself and by others she’s known. One of the small things she does is wear a row of cuffs on her wrist, jingling as she walks along. When she hears that small voice inside her head tell her to take one off and give it to a woman who looks like she needs it, she gives it to her. The first time she tried this, she was hesitant but pushed ahead. When she handed the bracelet over, the woman told Jill she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer the day before and had asked God to send her a sign that she’d be okay. The pink bracelet Jill gave her was the sign this frightened woman needed.
Of course, there are bigger stories in this book, of grander giving and the infinite blessings that flow from it. But all have the same message of hope. If you’re searching for an uplifting story that will make you excited about the future instead of afraid of it, pick up The Kindness Effect. Your heart will thank you.