THE BLOG
11/12/2014 01:48 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Gratitude Speaks: Ellie Laks, The Gentle Barn

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Gratitude Speaks creates worlds. Gratitude Speaks brings forth what has not existed before. It's wild, and free, and magical. Through Gratitude Speaks, I get to interview people whose work and presence I admire; who embody that divine spark of aliveness that draws you in; whose love has touched souls and saved lives, and this planet is kinder for it; people who are bright, spirited, and rooted in joy.

Who: Ellie Laks

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I'm very excited to feature Ellie Laks on Gratitude Speaks! Ellie's the founder of The Gentle Barn, a glorious place of healing for animals and people. Located in Santa Clarita just about 45 min north of Los Angeles, CA, it's open to the public every Sunday from 10:00am-2:00pm.The Gentle Barn is a magical place. It's a sanctuary for both animals and kids who have had traumatic experiences. It's the peaceful home to rescued animals who get to spend the rest of their beautiful lives there. And it's also a safe haven for at-risk children and teenagers who, maybe for the first time ever, get to experience that peace, love, and joy are real. The Gentle Barn truly is a giant storybook. By learning about the animals' life stories and interacting with them, the kids experience first-hand that kindness is always available. They're taught compassion and empathy for all living beings.

1. How do you define gratitude, and what are you grateful for?
Gratitude, in my opinion is a choice that flavors our days and determines what kind of life we will have. Gratitude is the backbone of a great day and a great life experience. In every situation there are things to be grateful for and things we can complain about and if we want to live in bliss than we must choose gratitude!I am grateful for a great many things, including a healthy body, happy kids, a loving mate, wonderful animals who make me smile, the opportunity to live on purpose and live my dream, a safe warm house, delicious nutrition, friends, love, peace, safety, and the chance to make a difference and do good.

2. What is art to you?
Art is the divine in each of us, it is the soul's expression. Art is a painting, a song or a poem, and it also is a sunset, a tree's dance, and a bird's ballad. It is mother earth and all its grace, it is nature and all its colors, it is mankind when we listen to our heart and express beauty and goodness.

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3. When did you experience significant personal growth, and how did it impact your perspective on life?
I have been growing and learning from the day I was born and will continue till I leave my body. But to pick one especially significant moment I would have to choose the time we were affected by a fire and had to evacuate our animals. It was very scary because it came on very quickly and we didn't have time to think, nor did we have time to get much help. When the fire started down the hill behind our house towards our barnyard my husband, Jay and I started putting animals into our trailer and our cars, but we didn't have enough trailer space to hold all our animals, nor did we have enough help to get them into the trailers in time to escape the oncoming inferno. Yet magically a group of strangers came to help us and a band of trucks and trailers sped our way to help us evacuate. By the time the flames had engulfed our property every single animal had been taken to safety. It dawned on me that day that it might not be just us down here at the mercy of luck. That in the end everything that is supposed to happen happens and at all times we are surrounded by angels and provided with everything we need. This seeming tragedy helped me feel enormous faith and I have never really felt afraid since. The longer version of that story is in my book, My Gentle Barn, sold on Amazon and in all book stores.

4. What other gems of joy & wisdom would you like to share with us?
I believe that we are all here for two things: to find ourselves and to live our dreams. We are all born with gifts inside us and my wish is that everyone can sing their song, shine their light and dance their dance. We are also here to be every day heroes and each of us can make huge impacts, no matter where we are and no matter what we are doing. If someone is hungry, feed them. If someone is distressed, help them. If someone is lonely, give them a smile and look into their eyes. We can have peace on earth, we just have to be the peace we want to see.

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Stay in touch with Ellie and the furry angels at The Gentle Barn: www.gentlebarn.org
If you'd like to support The Gentle Barn, you may donate here.
Their Instagram will expand your heart: @thegentlebarn.