She was simply enjoying a meal in the Oberor Hotel’s Tiffin Restaurant when two young men armed with AK-47’s began shooting. The date was November 26, 2008. Linda Ragsdale was on a meditation retreat. It was a time of learning, renewing and finding the treasured space of inner peace. In the group was a vibrant thirteen-year-old, Naomi. Sharing their mutual joys in music, art, crafts and drawing, they made plans for a Friday which would never come. They were to draw dragons.
Midway through their meal, raging bullets sprayed the air; each bullet searching for a place to incur the most pain, devastation and loss. And in a flash, Naomi, and her father and hundreds of others in the City of Mumbai were gone.
Linda was deeply wounded, her flesh burned from the bullet that rode one-quarter inch away from her spinal column traveling through a third of her body. Strangers became angels, and restaurant staff led the few survivors out a service door of the building. After exiting the building, Linda marveled at the fiery moments before, and lost herself the stark and contrasting beauty of the stars floating high in the India sky.
Told by her physicians she shouldn’t have survived, Linda did survive. Not only survived, she thrived. During her recovery, she honored her young friend, Naomi, by creating The Peace Dragon, a 501c3 organization teaching peace internationally through her Three Peace Code. Linda helps people of all ages find, keep and inspire peace by seeing and speaking to themselves and the world with love and making choices from a compassionate and balanced heart. Using the arts as the global doorway to creating peaceful expression, she fulfills her promise to Naomi by teaching people how to draw Peace Dragons with empty hands. People connect with their passions by observing what gift their dragon might bring to a world in need and appreciating the gifts they have already within themselves to share.
The Peace Dragon gained momentum. The dark events of one night empowered one woman’s passion to set peace as a default response to any situation. Linda was speaking to thousands and reframing peace as a core piece of living happily even through anything. Over 25,000 peace dragons had been drawn worldwide and Linda readying to leave for a year-long international speaking tour when the call came. A yearly mammogram revealed a new challenge. Cancer. Stage three Breast Cancer.
Facing a new terrorist – this time from within – Linda encountered more doctors, hospitals, surgery, then chemo. Again, fighting for her life. Most would ask “why” and give in to the new emotional and physical struggle over the pain and existing issues from the bullet wound. But Linda’s spirit recognized this experience as a tool to teach others about courage, bravery and most of all, finding and keeping their inner peace. Her attitude is to embrace each day not wondering how we’re going to die, but learning how to live fully in every moment.
Three years cancer free and ten years after the attacks, we celebrate Linda Ragsdale, a woman of courage. We celebrate her life. We thank her for her mission and we honor her gift of continually giving back to make a difference in the lives of children and adults around the world.
On the tenth memorial of the attacks, November 26th, Linda is the Global Read author for the Charter of Compassion. She’ll be reading the book dedicated to her friends, the agents who saved her life, and the entire city of Mumbai.
For more information or, you can sign up here: