Jack Canfield Jack Canfield author. speaker. motivator.

Affectionately known as "America's #1 Success Coach," Jack Canfield is the originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and a leading authority in the areas of self-esteem, achievement motivation, and peak performance. [www.jackcanfield.com]

 
Arianna Huffington Arianna Huffington political powerhouse. media mogul. author.

Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post and the author of twelve books. [www.huffingtonpost.com]

 
Seth Godin Seth Godin author. speaker. linchpin.

Seth Godin is a prominent author, blogger and speaker. [www.squidoo.com/linchpin]

 
Krishna Kaur Krishna Kaur yogi. philanthropist. dynamic teacher.

Krishna Kaur is the founder of YOGA for Youth, a program that takes yoga, meditation, and stimulating discussions on the philosophy of yoga to urban youth. [www.yogaforyouth.org]

 
Norman Lear Norman Lear producer. philanthropist. tv legend.

Norman Lear has enjoyed a long career in television and film. He is also a political and social activist and philanthropist. [www.normanlear.com]

 
Leilani Münter Leilani Münter race car driver. activist. carbon free girl.

Leilani Münter is a professional race car driver and an environmental activist who uses her voice in the number one spectator sport in America as a catalyst for change. [www.leilanimunter.com]

 
Kevin Bales Kevin Bales Freedom Fighter. Philanthropist. Game Changer.

By going undercover to meet slaves and slaveholders, Kevin Bales exposed modern slavery's penetration into the global economy. He co-founded Free the Slaves, which has helped to liberate thousands of slaves. [www.freetheslaves.net]

 
Sophie Chiche Sophie Chiche mom. big dreamer. lady in red.

Sophie Chiche, lifebyme.com founder and curator, enjoys asking deep questions and living a life of meaning. Today she's launching Shape House, an urban sweat lodge, a place to melt away fears and fat. [www.shapehousela.com]

 
Mastin Kipp Mastin Kipp Writer. Entrepreneur. Daily Lover.

Entrepreneur and writer Mastin Kipp founded TheDailyLove.com, which merges pop culture with inspiration, and co-founded The Love Yourself Company, an apparel company that has started a global self-esteem movement. [www.TheDailyLove.com]

 
Liz Phair Liz Phair singer. musician. crier.

Liz Phair is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. [www.lizphair.com]

 
Desmond Tutu Desmond Tutu archbishop. author. peaceful leader.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is Chairman of The Elders, a group of world leaders who address some of the world's most pressing problems. He works energetically for human-rights and in his ministry. [www.tutu.org]

 
Zainab Salbi Zainab Salbi author. ceo. humanitarian.

Zainab Salbi is the founder and CEO of Women for Women International, a group dedicated to helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives. [www.womenforwomen.org]

 
Sean Stephenson Sean Stephenson speaker. psychotherapist. life embracer.

Despite his physical challenges, Sean Stephenson has taken a stand for a quality of life that has inspired millions of people around the world. He's a professional speaker, psychotherapist, and author. [www.timetostand.com]

 
Kia Miller Kia Miller yogi. meditator. teacher.

Kia Miller teaches Yoga at Yoga Works in Los Angeles, leads teacher trainings, and runs retreats and workshops on meditation, chakras, pranayam, and mantras, and other practices. [www.kiamiller.com]

 
Simon Mainwaring Simon Mainwaring creator. writer. idea geek.

Simon Mainwaring is an ex-Nike/Wieden creative, former Worldwide Creative Director at Motorola/Ogilvy, branding/advertising writer, author/speaker/blogger, Australian, idea geek. [www.simonmainwaring.com]

 
Shannon Bindler Shannon Bindler Strategist. Writer. Life Coach.

Shannon Bindler is a style editor, life coach, and the co-founder of Get Up Girl, an empowerment company that inspires women to shine. [www.getupgirl.com]

 
Mathieu Bitton Mathieu Bitton Designer. Art Director. Passionate Creator.

Grammy-nominated art director/designer/photographer Mathieu Bitton has designed over 450 CDs and movie posters. He's a renowned collector of and authority on black films and their soundtracks. [www.candytangerine.com]

 
Jorge Perez Jorge Perez Agent. Producer. Photography Enthusiast.

Opus Reps founder and agent-producer Jorge Perez travels the world producing photo shoots with great photographers and celebrities. He's also very involved with Meals on Wheels in Los Angeles. www.opusreps.com

 

family

Gary Kowalski Gary Kowalski family guy. nature connoisseur. spiritual connector.

Gary Kowalski is a graduate of the Harvard Divinity School, a Unitarian Universalist minister, and the author of seven books on nature, spirituality, science, and the environment. [www.kowalskibooks.com]

What matters to me is family – feeling connected to a circle of care and love. Over time, that circle has widened to include relatives of many species.

I was grieving my grandfather’s death, for example, when I first heard about the gorilla Koko and her kitten. Koko, who’d managed to learn American Sign Language, got the kitten for her birthday. When the little cat escaped from the Gorilla Foundation and was killed, the ape was asked what she understood about the accident. “Why do gorillas die?” a trainer asked Koko, who responded with the signs for “trouble” and “old.” “How do gorillas feel when they die? Happy, sad, afraid?” Koko answered simply, “Sleep.”

At that point I’d received a degree from Harvard Divinity and been ordained, but graduate school doesn’t teach you the answers to questions like Why do people die? or Where do you find hope? My granddad was the primary male parent figure in my life, so I was struggling with his loss. But somehow Koko’s story opened my heart. I understood that my private burden of pain wasn’t so private after all. Though I’d lost a beloved family member, I was really part of a much larger family than I’d previously imagined: a community of passion and compassion that included me but outlasted me, that had been evolving for millions of years.

Since then, my “family” has grown. Two children joined our household, including a biological daughter and an adopted son. A proprietary strand of DNA isn’t really essential, I’ve learned. So, other family members would have to include the dogs who’ve shared our home, the chickens out back who give us eggs, and the chickadees who visit the feeder in winter. In inspired moments, I feel related to all of nature.

It’s the illusion of separateness that creates much of the unhappiness in our lives. Interdependence is the reality, both science and religion agree. But our culture encourages a “What’s in it for me?” attitude that leads us to regard other people as strangers and the natural world as a collection of commodities placed here for our personal gain. Alienation is the result. 

We are all related, sharing one Earth, one history and one fate. To renew that sense of kinship, plant a garden. Learn a new language. Love unconditionally, the way your dog does. Help those you can. Practice kindness without limits. 

– Gary Kowalski

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