Inspiring People: People who spread light or perpetuate change - and deserve love and praise.

Learning about the inspiring lives and wise words of people who have helped shape the world helps us gain strength, motivation, and wisdom.  It also shows that each of these people, above all else, is human.  Their vulnerabilities and bravery prove that no matter our status, we all have the power to change the world. 

"No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world." - Robin Williams 

Audrey Hepburn - Oh what a light on earth, Audrey Hepburn has always been one of my favorite actresses (I'm a sucker for films from the 1950's and 1960's), but she became one of my idols when I learned how she used her pain, influence, and wealth to become a philanthropist and humanitarian, helping underprivileged children and mothers worldwide through UNICEF.  She herself was aided by UNICEF as a child after surviving WWII.  She also had a husband who was unfaithful - a trauma all its own - and she had the bravery to divorce him in the 1960's, when divorce was still in the 20%s.  All of these testaments to her strength and resilience help remind me that trauma does not have to define you, but it can shape you into something beautiful.  

  • "Beauty is being the best possible version of yourself, inside and out." - Audrey Hepburn 

  • "Living is like tearing through a museum.  Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering – because you can’t take it in all at once." - Audrey Hepburn

  • "Taking care of children has nothing to do with politics. I think perhaps with time, instead of there being a politicization of humanitarian aid, there will be a humanization of politics." - Audrey Hepburn

  • "Nothing is impossible.  The word itself says 'I'm possible.'"- Audrey Hepburn

  • "Most of us live on the skin – on the surface – without appreciating just how wonderful it is simply to be alive at all." - Audrey Hepburn

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - Oh what a man.  One of my greatest heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an activist who risked (and tragically lost) his life to free an entire race of people.  His fearless actions and willingness to take a stand remind me of the importance of not keeping quiet or sitting idle about difficult topics that need to be addressed.  A few of my favorite Dr. Martin Luther KIng, Jr. quotes include -

  • "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." - Dr. Martin Luther KIng, Jr.

  • "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • "The time is always right to do what is right." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Oprah Winfrey - Oprah is a powerhouse of a person, her work in philanthropy is only a part of what has made her one of my greatest role models.  I recite her words every day to empower myself, a strategy that has been vital during the difficult times in my life.  Some of my favorite Oprah quotes include:

  • "The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Oprah Winfrey

  • "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." - Oprah Winfrey

  • "Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher." - Oprah Winfrey

  • "Where there is no struggle, there is no strength." - Oprah Winfrey

  • “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” - Oprah Winfrey

  • “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” - Oprah Winfrey

  • “I trust that everything happens for a reason, even when we're not wise enough to see it.” - Oprah Winfrey

Roxane Gay - Her website lists her as "an author... a professor, editor, and social commentator," but she is so, so much more.  Brave, bold, and brilliant are words I would use to describe this woman.  I love her so much for speaking out about hard-hitting topics, like her rape, about why she kept it quiet, about insecurities, expectations, and thoughts she had, and and and I could go on and on.  She writes and speaks out about other necessary topics like feminism, lesbianism, and her experiences as a woman of color and a larger woman.  I find her incredibly relatable and inspiring.  Her website is https://roxanegay.com and she can be found on Twitter

  • “There is a before and an after.  In the after I was broken, shattered, and silent.” - Roxane Gay

  • "People who are placed on pedestals are expected to pose, perfectly. Then they get knocked off when they f*ck it up. I regularly f*ck up. Consider me already knocked off." - Roxane Gay

  • “In our culture, we talk a lot about change and growing up, but man, we don’t talk nearly enough about how difficult it is. It is difficult.”  - Roxane Gay

  • “I have been broken, so I am prepared should that happen again... You have no idea what I can take.” - Roxane Gay​

Emily Dickinson - A poet born almost 200 years ago whose words continue to inspire to this day.  She taught herself to read and write in a time women were not supposed to be book-smart.  Despite criticism that her poetry was worthless, she kept on writing.  Unfortunately, it was not until after her death when her sister published her poems that people appreciated her work.  One of my favorite quotes helped inspire my company's philanthropic mission:

"If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain, or help one fainting robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain." - Emily Dickinson

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Charlie Chaplin - A b&w film actor, comedy genius, and activist.

  • "Let us strive for the impossible. Remember the great achievements throughout history have been the conquest of what seemed the impossible." - Charlie Chaplin 

  • "We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other's happiness, not by each other's misery." - Charlie Chaplin

  • "Nothing is permanent in this wicked world - not even our troubles." - Charlie Chaplin 

  • "I always like walking in the rain, so no one can see me crying." - Charlie Chaplin 

  • "You'll never find a rainbow if you're looking down." - Charlie Chaplin 

  • "Imagination means nothing without doing." - Charlie Chaplin 

Brené Brown - A motivational author and speaker who helps people embrace their vulnerabilities. 

  • “We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to.” - Brené Brown

  • "Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen." - Brené Brown

  • "Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change." - Brené Brown

  • "We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions." - Brene Brown  (This quote demonstrates one of the many reasons I found alternative ways to treat myself beyond pharmaceutical medications.)

  • “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” - Brené Brown

  • "Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness." - Brené Brown

  • "What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human." - Brené Brown

This list is perpetual and is always open to change.