Welcome back to our ongoing series to introduce you to each other. She’s a Woman on Fire! member and we want you to know her. Please say hello to…
Wilmette (Chicago), Illinois
Member since: August 21, 2012
Please tell us about YOU, your family and your work. What are you “on fire” about?
I was born, raised and educated in Missouri, and I was the first member of my family to earn a bachelor’s degree. I’m a Midwesterner with a gypsy heart. Although I crave experiencing new countries, cultures and adventures, I appreciate being grounded to a place with people-centered values.
I’ve been married for almost 25 years. We have five children, ages 14, 16, 17, 19 and almost 22. The two youngest children were adopted 11 years ago while we were living in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Prior to moving abroad, we lived in Minneapolis, where I was a social worker. There were adoption pioneers in Minnesota championing “open” adoptions and adopting unwanted, mix-raced children within the United States, which was not popular at the time. Social justice, racial equality and concern for children being left behind in the system were the motivating factors. We were inspired to consider adoption — until I got pregnant with baby No. 3, and we shelved our dream.
We moved abroad and witnessed many homeless children and overcrowded orphanages through our work with the American Society of Sao Paulo. Slowly we became inspired to reconsider adoption and took the leap. My husband met our son, Bruno, at the orphanage Lar Girassol and declared him his son. Synchronistically, he became our child, along with his biological sister, Esther.
After the adoptions, I hired a life coach to help me with the overwhelming transition. It was a powerful and empowering process that led me to seek coaching certification for myself. I started my practice in Sao Paulo, and after one year decided to complete master life coach training through my coaching organization, Martha Beck Inc. Like my clients, I was making major life-changing decisions, and I wanted the highest level of training and professional accountability available to me.
I’ve continued with my work as a master life coach, specializing in stress-related coaching, release of trauma and life-transition crossroads. I am also an aromatherapist and have signature essential oil products sold under my brand, Capim Santo Alchemy, and I craft personal blends.
Currently, I’m most on fire about being open to what’s next for me professionally and personally. I spent the last 18 months learning how to rest deeply in my quest to alleviate fatigue. I worked minimally and napped almost every day. Now I’m ready and set to go for what will transpire as I dream, listen and purposefully plan what’s next.
How did you originally connect to Women on Fire?
In 2009, I returned to the United States after living abroad for 10 years. My coaching mentor, Michele Woodward, introduced me to Debbie Phillips just before the 2010 Chicago Women on Fire retreat. Debbie invited me to come as a guest. I was only able to attend one day, but I left with my “love tank” full due to the dynamics of support, encouragement and passion present during the day. The women were open and engaging, and I was hooked.
What’s your favorite component of the Women on Fire membership?
I love the totality of the organization, but if I had to state something specifically it would be the one-to-one connections I’ve made through the teas and retreats. I love maintaining those connections through social media.
What is your favorite part of the day?
Early morning before the rest of the house is awake, you’ll find me outside with coffee and the birds.
What is the last book you read that you would recommend to other Women on Fire?
I’m rereading When Everything Changes, Change Everything by Neale Donald Walsch.
What is one thing you are most proud of?
It is definitely seeing my oldest daughters blossom as they become young adults. One of our parenting goals was to enter a friendship with our children as they enter adulthood. I’m living that right now, and it’s super sweet and rewarding.
If you had an unexpected free day, how would you spend it?
I would follow my joy, which might be different, depending upon the time of year. Weather permitting, I likely would be outside hiking or on my paddleboard. I would probably find my way to a fun restaurant or coffee shop and enjoy time with friends or a book.
What is your favorite city in the world?
Only one? I like different cities for different reasons, but I’ll talk about Sao Paulo, Brazil, because I have a Brazilian heart, and I lived there for eight years. It’s a complicated cement jungle, but underneath the traffic and pollution you’ll find the most amazing people, culture, music and food. It’s a city that requires the practice of peace in the midst of chaos and crime. It seems counterintuitive in light of the gorgeous cities I’ve visited, but I fell in love.
Share a special Women on Fire moment or experience.
At the retreat in Naples, Florida, last year, I was in the small group with Mary Canty Merrill when she made the connection with the woman who saved her life years earlier. It was a powerful moment, laced with love and awe.
Name another Woman on Fire who has inspired you and tell why.
Linda Neff continually inspires me in her quest to use her voice for others. I love seeing her smiling face each day profiling nonprofit organizations. Everything Linda does exudes love and joy.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced and how did you overcome it?
In 2003, we adopted two children while we were living in Sao Paulo: Bruno, who was five years old, and Esther, who was three. We already had three biological daughters who were 11, 9 and 7 at the time. Although I was a licensed social worker, there’s no knowledge like real-life experience. I had no idea the impact — for better or worse — that bringing home abandoned children would have on our family. I believe adoption is a lifelong journey and that each life and family dynamic is unique. It’s an organic process that does not have cookie-cutter solutions.
In order to overcome the challenge of adoption, the first thing I needed to learn and practice was the keeping and care of me. This has been a long journey and, just when I think I’ve cracked the code, I see deeper levels that need care. I’m still learning and overcoming the challenges that appear regularly.
What is something that we might be surprised to learn about you?
In 2011, I took myself to the emergency room because I cut my finger pitting an avocado. While I was there, I discovered a heart problem that required a pacemaker. My case is an anomaly in the field of electrophysiology.
If you had the opportunity to teach a child one strategy that would help to guide her life, what would that be?
Practice breath awareness and meditation.
Name three women who have influenced your life and tell what you’ve learned from each.
Mother Teresa was a big influence on me during my early adult years. She said, “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person,” and “See, really see, those who are unseen by the powers that be and do little things with great love.” She inspired the values I practice today. I had the opportunity to work with the Sisters of Charity in Calcutta in 1994.
Martha Beck is the founder of the coaching organization where I was trained. She is a Harvard-educated sociologist and best-selling author in the self-help coaching genre. Her coaching was the catalyst that dramatically shifted my life perspective. She introduced me to modern neuroscience research on brain development and function. The foundational coaching tool, The Body Compass, transformed the way I make decisions and experience life.
Byron Katie is another modern-day sage whose work has been imprinted on my life. I use her famous four questions, called “The Work,” on a weekly, if not daily, basis. The Work has provided the framework to loosen myself from painful stories and beliefs that my ego wants to hold onto.
Who cheers you on?
My husband, my daughters and a chorus of virtual friends and colleagues, including the Women on Fire community.
What is your favorite “pig out” food?
Right now, it’s potato chips and dip.
What are the top three songs on your iPod right now?
What is your go-to self-care strategy?
I use a combination of the following on a daily basis: proper hydration, fuel (nutrition), rest, movement, meditation, breathing practices and mental cleanses.
When you reflect on your life so far, what are the first words that come to mind?
Seeker and adventure.
More about Dana Frost…
Dana’s coaching alchemy transforms emotional baggage and trapped thinking into freedom, heals the heart and unveils the possibilities in any situation. She helps clients mine their mind, body, soul, emotion and energy wisdom to lead lives from their core strengths, values and intuition. Dana is an intuitive and spiritually insightful coach who uses Martha Beck coaching strategies and tools, aromatherapy, breath awareness and meditation, Resonance Repatterning®, HeartMath® and spiritual insight. She is a Master Certified Martha Beck Life Coach and the creator of Capim Santo Alchemy signature essential oil aromatherapy. You are welcome to say hello to her at danafrost (at) me (dot)com.
The She’s a Woman on Fire! feature is compiled by senior writer Becky Adams.