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 is the co-founder and Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post and the author of twelve books. [www.huffingtonpost.com]
Seth Godin is a prominent author, blogger and speaker. [www.squidoo.com/linchpin]
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 has enjoyed a long career in television and film. He is also a political and social activist and philanthropist. [www.normanlear.com]
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]
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, 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]
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 is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. [www.lizphair.com]
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 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]
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 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 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 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]
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]
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
The bank line, of all places. Mundane, everyday, cell phones buzzing and impatient children whining. In Spanish. Of which I understood not a word. Alajuela, Costa Rica. Alone. So, so alone.
Having never really envisioned solo travel in Central America, I hadn’t ever bothered to learn Spanish. I knew rudimentary Dutch and conversational French, both of which were rustier than I’d like to admit. And because of a confused but sweet taxi driver who couldn’t find the hostel and, instead, dropped me off at a hole-in-the-wall hotel the next town over, there I stood. In a town not really intended for tourists, especially not ones who don’t speak Spanish. I just wanted to cash a traveler’s check and pay for my run-down room.
Apparently in Alajuela people get to the bank early. They leaned against the cool stone wall, and so did I. They pecked at their cell phones, checked their makeup, chatted with friends. From what I could tell there was a line for seniors, populated by old men with potbellies and deep smile lines who laughed heartily about something. I wanted to be laughing too.
I felt helpless. Out of place. I imagined glowing lights around me that shouted, “One of these things is not like the others!” I could feel myself shrinking despite attempts to act casual, like it was a totally normal Wednesday morning.
As my mind began to race, envisioning the fabled banditos and volleying angry rounds at the cab driver (aren’t cab drivers supposed to know where they’re going?!), the words of one of my teachers rang in my heart:
“I am you, and you are me. Relax into the simplicity of oneness.”
Lifting my gaze from my feet and relaxing my grip on my messenger bag, I openly gazed into the faces of the men and women around me. Men and women living their lives, who have hobbies and struggles and pets and pictures of their kids in their wallets. My pulse slowed. My shoulders softened. And so did my heart. I am you and you are me. We are one energy, not so separate at all.
And suddenly, as if in slow motion, I was absorbed into the rhythm of the morning. The doors opened and we streamed in. Seamless. Unified. Trust replaced fear. Not me and them; we were all in this bank line together.
- Heather Day
Explore More Meaning
authors. citizens. peacemakers.
Gerda Weissman Klein and Alysa Ullman co-founded Citizenship Counts to promote the importance of multigenerational citizen programs. Alysa is an author and the Executive Director of Citizenship Counts. Gerda is an author, Academy Award winner, Holocaust survivor, and human rights activist. [www.citizenshipcounts.org]
mom. TED-talker. no-bullsh**er.
Sophie Chiche, founder of lifebyme.com, is the single mom of an amazing 16-year-old, Leah, and wicked step-mom of 22-year-old, Sarah. They all live in LA. You can find them boxing, cooking, collaging, hosting brunches, laughing their head off or bickering over who's washing and who's drying the dishes.