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
In January, I made a public declaration that 2011 would be my year of loving fearlessly. About a week before, I’d been sitting in a coffee shop. It was raining outside. I was wet and cold, struggling with a book review I’d agreed to write and waiting for someone who’d already called to say he was going to be late. A woman was talking loudly on her cell phone and I was trying hard to kill her with my best, most murderous stare, when a friend texted me. “Hey J,” the text said, “You’re beautiful. Love Hayley.”
It’s weird how profoundly that text affected me, how I couldn’t have felt more loved, more warmed, more emotionally altered if she’d actually walked into the cafe and hugged me.
I started my Love Project a few days later, because I didn’t want to forget what that sudden, unexpected connection felt like, and I knew I would if I didn’t actively grab hold of it and make it into … a project.
Since then, I’ve been making love happen. Consciously. Boldly. I give myself (and my readers) love assignments. I check in. I write, read, and talk about love all the time. I’m a zealot. A warrior.
I want love to be my default setting. Not just the sweet, let’s-all-try-to-get-along kind of love, but the fierce, messy, searching kind, the kind that breaks you open, empties you out, and then fills you up in perfect and utterly unexpected ways.
Being that open is a risky way to live, no doubt – putting faith in humanity despite all the reasons humanity gives us to lose faith. But I believe there are people out there whose love will change how I see and move in the world. Finding them and connecting with them takes a certain amount of fearlessness, and that’s okay, because here’s what I’ve learned …
Love doesn’t happen to us, it happens because of us, because of who we are and what we do. It happens because we make it happen, because we choose it. On any given day, we have the opportunity again and again to choose isolation, withdrawal, anger, fear … or love. Love is untidy. It’s unpredictable. It’s often inconvenient and occasionally terrifying. Love happens, I’m convinced, when we’re magnificent and badass enough to make it happen.
I intend to be badass.
- Judy Clement Wall