Reverend Shawn Moninger leading through candor acceptance insight and the ability to laugh

Unity minister Reverend Shawn Moninger of Norwalk Connecticut

Unity minister Reverend Shawn Moninger of Norwalk Connecticut

Shawn Moninger was, years ago, an award winning lighting director for the NYC nightclub Don’t Tell Mama. Yes, he used to light people from without. Until he decided he had a far greater power to light people from within, and following that call he became an ordained minister for Unity Center for Practical Spirituality. He was nominated for an MAC award as a stand-up comedian.

But underlying all that Shawn has done with such great success is the feeling he had even as a child that something loved him, something very big loved him despite the abusive childhood he suffered at the hands of people who knew no better. There does not seem to be an area of personal struggle with which Shawn is uncomfortable, and to hear him talk about love, forgiveness and his own journey from self-doubt to spiritual leadership is, well, yes, to be strengthened by Reverend Shawn’s own unusual light.

And as laughter is often the most direct route to serious, Reverend Shawn is a brilliant guide on the difficult road to healing and recognition of one’s own innate goodness. He is smart, patient, easy to follow and easy to trust. The most defeated soul seems safe in Shawn Moninger’s spiritual hands.

More on Broadway conductor David Friedman’s personal road from living fearfully to living sensationally


David Friedman, composer, conductor, speaker and author of The Thought Exchange

David Friedman, composer, conductor, speaker and author of The Thought Exchange

The Thought Exchange is so original and makes such sense when you hear what it is that you might wonder why you did not think of it on your own. Well, worry not that it never occurred to you because Broadway composer and conductor David Friedman has not only thought of it but has made it a large part of his own work and is eager to share it. To listen to him talk about how to exchange one thought for another is a revelation that will release you from the burden that you have to cheer up, or get over it, or find closure. You can feel as scared as ever and be a great success just the same, daunted not by pounding heart, shifting sands under your feet, and the conviction that you are about to die of fear. The very way David talks with such candor, laughter and generosity about his own thought exchanges is an easily understandable lesson in self-acceptance. His love letter? Like so much in David’s hands, it is a creative and healing example you might want to follow.

Bay Area artist Rich Sigberman now playing at…


Rich Sigberman artist and musician

Rich Sigberman artist and musician

Rich Sigberman is an artist of exceptional talent, not only for his imagination, style and precision of his illustration but for the variety of his genres that include representations of musicians as well as for his pop art, illustration and compelling abstract paintings. After years as a successful artist and illustrator he is adding a new layer of rhythm and form; he is now performing as a musician himself. To her him talk about his decision to sing professionally is a lesson in trusting what you know to be your talents, letting personal courage lead the way and not limiting yourself.

Todd Lieman’s day well lived and the snowballing world of gratitude

Todd Leiman and his son Kolby

Todd Lieman and his son Kolby

Todd Lieman is an imaginative, conscious, creative man who understands what makes a day well lived and the benefits of specific gratitude expressed. He began by encouraging his young son Kolby to express each night three things for which he is grateful. And, because from the mouths of babes come some of our best insights, Todd took the challenge when Kolby asked him to “do some gratefuls”, which is what they called this practice.

Todd tweeted his gratitude and felt immediately better, and out of that grew a world of snowballing thankfulness. To listen to Todd talk about what is important in life, his Aha project and his own life lived in gratitude and honesty lets us know that a day does not have to be perfect to be well-lived. A day in which we can be present, do our best in the face of challenges, express gratitude and sometimes bring the darkness into the light without fear of negative reaction is a day well lived.

Conversation with Myrna Aronoff on the importance of thank you notes

Myrna AronoffThe San Francisco Chronicle recently published Sam Whiting’s story of  Mica Jarmel-Schneider who decided, as his bar mitzvah project, to collect baseball gear to send to kids in Cuba. The start of this adventure was, of course, his generosity. The plot thickened with an astonishing adventure all because Mica never got a thank you note.

This compelling story was the impetus of a conversation with San Francisco’s Myrna Aronoff on the topic of thank you notes, those seemingly small gestures that are definitely love letters and important for so many reasons that range from simple courtesy through political consequences to emotional importance. Myrna, a particularly expressive, loving and enthusiastically grateful woman has, as a grandmother, come to some conclusions about thank you notes, too often considered a kind of a relic, but a modern necessity all the more so in a society that purchases gifts online and directly from stores and sends them via mail.

Noah Griffin’s elegance a draw coast to coast right through Peru Indiana

Noah Griffin born and raised in San Francisco, California has a national reach through his elegant musical performances and The Cole Porter Society he started

Noah Griffin born and raised in San Francisco, California has a national reach through his elegant musical performances and The Cole Porter Society he started

Noah Griffin wanted to join a Cole Porter Society. Simple like that, really. He is, after all, a singer drawn to the boundless elegance of Cole Porter music and lyrics. Noah and Cole share history and flair. Each is a Harvard Law School graduate, each has an easy elegance, a feel for euphony and subtle rhythms, winds an audience around their little fingers, and the list goes on. If you know Noah, you know that a Cole Porter Society is meant for him, and look for one he did.

Alas, not so simple after all. There was no Cole Porter Society. Give up? Turn away? Do something else? Not like Noah, a socially fearless fellow, to walk away from a chosen destination so he stared a Cole Porter Society. Simple like that, really. Not just “a” Cole Porter Society, but “The” Cole Porter Society, which has leapt from San Francisco, California through Cole Porter’s birthplace of Peru Indiana to New York. To listen to Noah talk about how The Cole Porter Society took off in what seems to be pretty much a flash from San Francisco to New York is a lesson in pursuing a goal and creating what you know has value just for the joy of the potential.

Noah’s concerts are, and were from the first, played to packed houses. Part of that is Noah’s stage presence, joy and generosity, but a large part of it is the music that people have never forgotten, and to which today’s teens of all cultures still relate as Noah presents it. Noah has tapped into a serious yen for elegance of expression and wants to make it part of the popular musical world again. Sophistication lives everywhere, and to hear about his reception in Peru, Indiana (and how he got there), is a tribute to the power of music to bring people of widely differing societal spheres together. Turns out once again that what comes from the heart enters the heart.

Jane Bragg and the samovar that carries her surprising family history from Kiev to SF

Jane Bragg

Jane Bragg

Jane Bragg, one of the world’s great storytellers, is back with another, this one about a samovar that led to the discovery of some unexpected family history details about her grandfather who was possibly a guard to the Czar of Russia, a world by and large closed to Jews and also her not uncommon relationship to Genghis Khan. To listen to Jane tell this story is a treat not just for the joy, candor and gusto she puts into every story (and conversation) but for the realization that even a small item can have a huge personally historical reach. Her love letter? So many possibilities like to the relatives who passed away without knowing this unusual family history, Jane’s part in re-discovering it and what her life is now in San Francisco so removed from the Siberia of her ancestors.

To save the life of a stranger Kristin Hove Herrera gave a kidney

To save the life of a stranger Kristin Hove Herrera gave a kidneyThanks to the extended reach of medical miracles and communication, there has come to be a new world of kidney transplantation. We hear about the fortunate people who have, as the media so often says, “found a kidney”. Found? Not at all. Given. And by someone. Today it is as likely as a gift from a stranger. How much do we know about the heroes who are the donors? Kristin Hove Herrera is one of the altruistic kidney donors who decided to give a kidney just to save the life of a stranger. To hear her talk about her decision, the surgery and the aftermath is an astounding look into the heart of a brave and selfless woman. To hear one of her exceptional underlying reasons for giving a life through a kidney donation is a lesson in faith in the future. And, her love letter? Exceptional and charming.

Amanda King San Francisco singer with a San Francisco story

Amanda King

Amanda King

There is a glow that precedes every step Amanda King takes as she strolls onto a stage where she is self-possessed and in charge. There is the smile of an angel that promises something unique. And, singular it is. Never mind the frequent comparisons to some of our greats, Amanda is 100% Amanda. Her intelligence is her own spotlight. Not to her credit the genetic gift, but definitely to her credit what she does with it and how she has grown into her own style. She comes from a family of highly educated and accomplished musicians, and although she knows who she is and what she has to give, she takes her music seriously without putting herself in the center of any universe. Amanda, daughter of an opera singer, came to San Francisco to take her art into her own direction, to pursue a career as a jazz singer. She found the road bumpier than she had envisioned, and, although she and her 18-month old son were, at one point, homeless she has maintained a conscious gratitude for every blessing and is committed to giving back to the people of Raphael House who helped her when she needed it most. To hear Amanda talk about her family, her music, her son and her journey always in progress is a lesson in knowing what it means to live life beautifully. To hear Amanda sing is a pure gift.

Carson Silkey a model of fatherhood courage

Carson with he three daughters at Disneyland

Carson with his three daughters at Disneyland

Carson Silkey’s three daughters have had the good fortune to have a father who has no trouble speaking his mind about how wonderful they are. He is right there with them every step of their way into adulthood, overjoyed at their abilities, their compassion and their accomplishments, while at the same time stands strong with expectations of principled and compassionate behavior. To listen to Carson talk about life with his three daughters and his exceptional wife is to learn about raising girls who know their worth because their father does. Carson is a man who appreciates female strength and respects the women in his life and, is that not, when all is said and done, the basis of any real love? His love letter is one he wrote to one daughter as an assignment to write a letter to a child who had been killed in a car crash. A horrible contemplation that led to a beautiful and most perfect love letter and a reminder about how important it is to say what you feel directly to someone while you still have the chance.