No, you’re not crazy. It’s just the holidays!

Time to bring everything outside inside.  So, I took one last swing on my hammock in the autumn chill and sunshine today for the last time in 2014.

Surveying the dead and crunchy leaves around me — leaves that were tender green shoots only months ago — I began to feel sad about the passage of time.

I got teary thinking about holidays past with treasured relatives who are long gone.

Then, I began to panic about everything I need to accomplish before the end of the year.  Before you know it, I was in the middle of an end-of-the-year, melt-down muddle!

As the year closes in, are you feeling sad, or pressured, or as though things are falling apart?  Or, are people around you melting down?

If so, it is not in their imagination, or yours, or mine!  Talk to any therapist who will tell you that stress is more pronounced this time of the year than any other.

The pressure of holidays coming so close together, tied with deadlines to wrap up the year and start a new one, can leave you feeling like you’re running a marathon on a hamster wheel!

Add to it the expectation that we are to be happy and of good cheer during this time of year when biologically we were designed to withdraw and hibernate — and no wonder holiday times can take a toll on us.

So, as many of us gather this week for Thanksgiving, it’s a good time to remember what can give you comfort, lift you up, and keep you sane:

  •  Hug and kiss the ones you love the most and tell them exactly what you love and appreciate about them. (“You bring me so much joy and I feel so cared about by you.”)
  • Graciously say “no” to more things than you said “yes” to. (“That’s a lovely offer and I wish we could but we can’t.”)
  • Take stock of all the good or great things you did or that happened this year (I bet you can find at least 50 terrific things that made proud or made you smile in 2014. Make a list, invite others to join you, then share and celebrate each other’s good news and achievements.)
  • Find someone to talk to who will listen to you express your feelings without giving you unasked for advice. (Friend, relative, colleague, therapist!)
  • Sit with a friend and listen to them share their own feelings of “holiday crazy.” (Your chance to let them know they’re not!)
  • Schedule naps and down time now for the next month. Keep your tank full and the holidays will be easier. (Extra points for inspiring others to do the same! Double extra points for naps with pets and babies.)
  • Focus your time and attention on the people who are most important to you.

On the Women on Fire monthly members’ LIVE CHAT recently, we talked about a special process to help you focus your time and energy to get the most joy during the holidays. It starts with making a list of the 8-10 people who are THE most important of all and putting your time and attention on them!

  • Reach out to someone who is lonely – and let them know you’re thinking about them.
  • Vow to create a peaceful home and stress-free environment. (Your home is your sanctuary. What needs to happen to make it an oasis this holiday season? What is one thing you can do right now to make it more peaceful?)
  • Take time to be grateful.  (Nothing shifts my mood faster than keeping a daily gratitude list.)

Have a beautiful week.  I hope you find yourself at peace and celebrating in ways that uplift you.

I will be on Martha’s Vineyard for Thanksgiving with my husband Rob and close friends — and am looking very forward to a relaxing time, creating new memories with people I love.

That tinkling sound you’ll hear?  It will be me toasting you!

For all your love and support and my enormous gratitude that you are in this amazing circle of fabulous women (and quite a few men) making the world a better place.

Love,

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She’s A Woman on Fire! Meet Kristy Nicholas

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…

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Kristy Nicholas

Originally from Houston, Texas, and now living in Killarney, Ireland

Member: #00111

Member since: July 16, 2012

Please tell us about YOU, your family and your work. What are you “on fire” about?

I am on fire about where I am in my journey. In 2014, I moved to Ireland to be closer to my partner, Noel, and his sons, Sam and Christopher. We are building a family in which love and life are celebrated — along with all major Irish and U.S. holidays!

I changed my employer so I could select my own location and keep doing work that energizes me. All of this stemmed from a Vision Day with Debbie Phillips in July 2013. It was my birthday present to myself. I highly recommend it!

How did you originally connect to Women on Fire?  

I connected through a wonderful person, Woman on Fire Melissa McClain. She told me about an amazing woman that I had to meet named Debbie Phillips. She introduced us, and the rest of the story is a rich, delicious history of a life better lived.

What is your favorite part of the day?

I love crawling into bed, as I am a huge fan of sleep. I particularly love the moment I’m comfy in bed after a productive or happy day, when I can name a long list of what I am grateful for in my life before I drift off. I try to end every day with gratitude.

What is the last book you read that you would recommend to other Women on Fire?

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. I am a huge fan of hers and of the concept of “being in the arena.” Fellow Woman on Fire Lani McKinnon introduced me to Brené, making her even more special to me.

What is the one thing you’re most proud of?

I am proud that in late 2013, during some of my darkest moments — I was exhausted with shingles, lonely and stressed — I listened to my dad, who told me to focus on the positives, and I found the faith to improve my situation. I am also proud that I was smart enough to ask for help.

If you had an unexpected free day, how would you spend it?

There is an amazing beach, Rossbeigh, not too far from Killarney. I would ask Noel to take me there.

What is your favorite city in the world?

I am a traveler at heart, so I will say it is the city I haven’t visited yet. I always like to see new places!

Name a Woman on Fire who has inspired you and tell why.

Jan Allen inspires me every time we speak. One of the ways I sought help during late 2013 was by hiring a coach. I chose Jan because she and I share the similar experiences of embarking on a relationship later in life and then building a family with our partner’s children. I thought I was only hiring a coach, but what I got was a coach, a loving mentor and a friend. It is as her stepson Michael told her: she gives “mind power.”

What’s your big dream?

I am living my big dream! I moved to Ireland to be with Noel. I was able to start my own business and keep doing work I love. Plus, I am having so much fun! The side benefit of a nonlocation-dependent job is that I can be where I need to be, when I need to be there, such as at birthday parties and weddings or in hospital rooms.

I have family and friends across the globe who enrich and bless my life. The only thing I could add to this big dream would be to receive a phone call from Oprah Winfrey asking me to work with her! I’ve changed that a bit, as I used to say I wanted to work for her. :)

If you had the opportunity to teach a child one strategy that would help to guide her life, what would that be?

I would flip this a bit and teach her parents a strategy. It’s the gift my parents gave me, and the lesson is to teach your child that she is enough just because she exists. As I told Oprah when I interviewed her in February 2002 for O Magazine, I am so grateful to my parents because they loved me just for being Kristy.

I didn’t need to be a great piano player or terrific athlete. I didn’t even need to believe in the same things as them. All they ever asked is for me to be the best Kristy I could be. That was enough. They chose to welcome me into their lives, and they loved me from the moment they knew I existed.

I didn’t have to earn the love. It was freely given. Unconditional love sets children free and allows them to know they can do anything. I know many more incredible experiences and gifts will come my way. What I know for sure—none will top unconditional love.

What is something that we might be surprised to learn about you?

I think what folks find most surprising about me is that I am a classic introvert. I am charismatic and energetic in a crowd only if I’ve had enough time to recharge on my own. I figured this out on a cruise with my girlfriends.

We were having a great time, yet I was feeling totally depleted after the second day. So, I told them I needed to go sit on the beach by myself, and I came back feeling so much better. Most of them are huge extroverts, so it was a revelation that I could reenergize by being by myself!

Name three women who have influenced your life, and tell what you’ve learned from each.

Since I’ve talked a lot about fellow Women on Fire, I’m going to introduce you all to some non-Women on Fire who inspire me:

I will never forget a nine-hour drive I took with my grandmother, Meme. Along the way, we discussed a potential big move for me. She said I should “just do it” and told me about her experience of moving from Arkansas to California with my grandfather, mother and aunt.

She’d never been so far away from her home and family, but she even managed to get herself to the hospital to give birth to my uncle when my grandfather was away at sea. I was so impressed by her gumption. I thought, “I come from that; it’s in me too.”

My mother inspires me in countless ways. She is the rock of our family. I think what I find most amazing about her is the way she loves us fully. There is no halfway holiday or celebration in our house — we go all the way.

Love is in the details for her, and she strives to ensure that every detail is well tended. And, when she’s needed, she shows up. once even driving with me from Seattle to Texas with a dog and a cat. I think the hardest thing for her was “letting” me move to Ireland. Despite tears and some questions, her final words were “Do what makes you happy.”

My nieces Kimber and Bryleigh inspire me to be a good example, to show them what you can do when you believe in and love yourself. I write them a letter every month, and each Christmas, I compile a book with pictures of them that their mother, Sara, sends me (she’s pretty inspiring too).

Who cheers you on?

My life is full of cheerleaders. I am humbled by those people around me who deeply care for and love me. While there are countless folks I could name here, I want to recognize someone I love and admire so greatly: my hero, Lo Lyons.

She’s been fighting cancer for more than five consecutive years, and you hit double digits if you count her first bout. Yet, she’s a woman who always has a smile on her face, a hug to comfort me, and genuine concern for what’s going on with me, no matter what she is dealing with.

When I moved to Ireland, she took a selfie and told me “I’ve got my eye on you.” I look at it and laugh often. She’s amazing. When cancer struck the second time, we started using the phrase LOL—Love on Lo. So, Mrs. Lyons, here’s a huge LOL for all the love you give.

What is your favorite “pig-out” food?

This one is so easy for this Texas girl — Mexican food and a cold Margarita!

What are the top three songs on your iPod right now?

For over a year now, my alarm has been Katy Perry’s Roar. The night I moved to Ireland, I listened to Sarah Bareilles’ Brave on repeat as I flew over the Atlantic. Another song I love right now is John Legend’s All of Me.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced and how did you overcome it?

It definitely wa choosing love. I fell in love with a man, Noel, who lived in Ireland. When I began dating him, I knew he had two young sons, so that meant I had to fall in love with all three of them — there was no partial deal.

I also realized that loving him would require me to dramatically change my life and relocate to Ireland. I couldn’t love Noel the way I do if he was willing to leave Sam and Christopher behind in Ireland and start a new life in the United States with just me. So we dated, and dated and dated long distance for for two and a half years long before I told work and family I planned to move last January.

At the time, I wasn’t sure exactly how it was going to work; I just knew I had to do it. I loved him that much. Having faith that it would all work out well and the courage to make myself completely vulnerable was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

And frankly, because I love my independence, some days it’s still hard. That said, the joy that has come thus far is already worth the leap of faith. And I know that we’re just getting started.

What is your go-to self-care strategy?

To be literal, I like to “go to” the spa. I’ve never visited a spa I didn’t like! One of my favorite activities is going to a pedicure spa with my friend, Mary, or my mom, sister-in-law, Sara, and my niece, Kimber. I guess now that I have a second niece, Bryleigh, we’ll have to introduce her to Isle Pedispa as well!

When you reflect on your life so far, what is the first word or two that comes to your mind?

I love words so I’ll pick two: courageous and happiness.

More about Kristy Nicholas…

Kristy Nicholas founded Clarity Global Communications to help businesses and people tell their stories and so she could move to Ireland with the love of her life, Noel and his two sons. She has a cat, Tuna, and a dog, Tucker. Kristy previously worked in investor relations and communications at Expedia Inc. and ExpressJet Airlines. Kristy is a Texas girl at heart. Her hobbies include reading, traveling and hosting great celebrations. Kristy would love for you to say hello to her at knicholas(at)clarityglobalcomm(dot)com.

 

She’s A Woman On Fire! feature is compiled by senior writer Becky Adams.

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The overnight success of the Cronut. NOT!

There’s something you need to know that happens on the way from the spark of your dream – to the success you deeply desire.

It usually takes a loooooong time.  And it’s a lot of work.

That’s me standing at the end of a queue for a Cronut®.  More in a minute about Cronuts and its creator Dominique Ansel — and why on earth I’d stand in line for an hour for …well, basically a fancy donut.

But first …

Overnight success to achieve your dream is as rare as winning the lottery – even though instant achievement is what we wish for and want to believe is possible!

The expectation that overnight success should come quickly keeps way too many people from eventually seeing their dreams come true.  They get frustrated and quit before the miracle happens.

“Anything worth a dime (or damn, depending on his audience!) is worth working hard for,” said Woody Hayes, the late Ohio State University football coach.

Last weekend, in New York City, I came upon two hard-working men who could appear to be “overnight successes” and each inspired the heck out of me!

Both of them put in years and years of hard work before their brilliant business ideas “popped” and they now experience the taste of big success.

First is stationery and gift designer R. Nichols, or Nic, as he’s called.

He worked for many years at Abercrombie & Fitch before launching a product design business in his parents’ basement!

I first learned about Nichols’ exquisite work from Women on Fire member Laura Tiberi who introduced me to his sophisticated, whimsical designs, including his famous “Grati-Pad.”

He knocked on door after door to place his work in specialty stores across the country and at Gump’s, Barneys, Bloomingdales, Neiman-Marcus and others.

Overnight success?  Nope.

It’s 14 years later since he was in the basement, so to speak!

He never gave up.  Along the way, and I’m sure he’d say he’s still “on his way,” he illustrated the cover and chapter headings for the New York Times’ best-selling bookFrench Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano.

Nichols lives by this: “No matter what I am doing, I always strive to maintain my mission – which is to create joy, if only in small ways.”

Gracious, warm and welcoming, he is a whirl of enthusiasm who keeps his eye on the next beautiful design he plans to create — as more and more people fall in love with his work.

And then there’s Dominique Ansel.  The fact that I stood in line for an hour with dozens of others (as had thousands of others in the past months) to purchase my limit of two Cronuts tells you the man’s dream has come true.

He’s no overnight success either.  This French pastry chef who started cooking at age 12 slaved away in kitchens for decades before opening his own little bakery in 2011 in Soho.

He kept his pastry case filled with gorgeous, creative, delicious treats.

And then …

He and his team took months to perfect a donut-croissant hybrid that became the Cronut — and started a pastry revolution!

Ansel had no idea this particular pastry would become a success. He went to bed one night, thinking he’d just added another pastry to his repertoire. Only to wake the next day and discover people stood in line for his handmade Cronuts!

Dominique Ansel is a bakery so special now that it has a doorman/security guard to kindly and gently keep the crowd from spinning out of control while they wait in long lines for their sugary treats!

On the day we were there, even the famous Roots drummer, DJ and music producer QuestLove patiently waited in line for his Cronuts, over the shoulder of Women on Fire member Holly Getty.

Still, Ansel knows that being the best at what he does “is a lifetime commitment” and there is no such thing as “overnight success.”

Years ago, I remember listening to an interview with singer Gloria Estefan after she’d won her first Grammy Award.  The interviewer referenced her “overnight success,” and she quickly interrupted him.

“I’ve been working in clubs until 3AM for a decade. My success is not overnight.”

R. Nichols’ success wasn’t either.  Nor was Dominique Ansel’s. You may be one of the lucky ones to win the instant success lottery.

Regardless, your success is a journey, not a destination.

Women on Fire is here to help you stay on the road during the uncertain and tough times, and then celebrate you when people line up at your door for your version of  “Cronuts.” :-)

Have a delicious week!

Women on Fire monthly members, I’ll see you on the Live Chat this Tuesday, November 11 at 8PM Eastern where I’ll talk about The Power of Intention — 7 Ways to Capture and Create What You Desire.

Love,

P.S. Great news for Columbus, Ohio-area Women on Fire! You are invited to a Holiday Tea led by Andrea Dowding and co-hosted by Tricia Simpson on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at the Cambridge Tea House from 4:30 to 7:30pm. Only 10 seats remain — and they will sell out fast! Don’t miss out on this very special opportunity to connect and celebrate with your Women on Fire sisters this Holiday season. Register here!

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November’s Book To Live By

This month’s Books To Live By selection is a perfect companion to brighten the impending change in seasons, the chaos of the holidays and those quiet winter nights.

From celebrated author and seasoned psychotherapist Gunilla Norris comes one of the best spiritual practice books of 2014.

Our November selection is….

Match: Bringing Heart and Will into Alignment by Gunilla Norris.

Gunilla guides you through a transformational 90-day journey that motivates you to commit to yourself and your inner light. The beauty of her prescribed practice lies within its simplicity and the profound aftereffects.

“For ninety consecutive days, light a match with purpose, a feeling or a desire in mind,” writes Norris. If you happen to miss a day, you simply restart the 90-day countdown. You’ll be inspired and encouraged to not only nurture, but also to fire up your inner most desires, truths and feelings.

As the author of some of my all-time, favorite self-improvement books, such as Inviting Silence: Universal Principles of Meditation and Sheltered in the Heart, I can attest to Gunilla’s expertise in stripping away external and internal barriers to help you get to the heart of whatever it is that you truly want.

Match makes a beautiful gift for the upcoming holiday season and an even better “just because” gift to yourself! Here’s to lighting the spark within this winter! :)

With lots of love~


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A simple skill that can make a big difference for you

How’d you spend your extra hour last night!?

The wind and rain and a few snow flurries whooshed through the woods all night and day here on Martha’s Vineyard.  I took full advantage of that extra hour and stayed under the covers, occasionally peeking out the bedroom window at incredible autumn beauty!

Welcome to you – and to hundreds of you who are new this week to The Spark!

Women on Fire came into existence more than a decade ago with the belief that if you have access to inspiration, strategies and support, you can greatly increase your ability to live your dreams and make a difference in the world.

Our topic today focuses on an important strategy for your success — having the awareness and skills to respond.

Responding is a simple skill and essential behavior for effective communication, that if not practiced can lead to upset, conflict and diminished success.

Years ago, when I coached women one-on-one, responding was often one of the first skills I would work on with leaders to help them achieve.

Here are two recent emails I received that reveal what happens when we fail to respond:

Dear Debbie,

My boss never tells me I’m doing a good job.  Even though my performance reviews are always stellar, I’d like to hear throughout the year when I do a good job.

It makes me nervous and it’s so stressful to have to wait until my annual review to learn whether I’m on track.  I don’t want to seem too needy by asking for an occasional compliment.

I’ve started to look elsewhere for a job, but I really love the work I do and don’t want to leave. Any thoughts?

Love, Cathy

And this one:

Hi Debbie,

My husband and I see a couple we enjoy a lot.  But they both have the same quirk.

Sometimes when we’re invited to their house, they don’t even look up and greet us after we’ve come in.  Other times, I might share something personal or exciting or important and they don’t comment – or they’ll change the subject.

Other than that, we have fun with them and would like to continue our friendship. Is there anything we should say or do?  I’m sure we have our own quirks that bug them!

Thanks, Liz

The issue both Cathy and Liz are frustrated by is a lack of response from people who are important to them.

Most likely, if Cathy’s boss or Liz’s friends knew how much their behavior hurt them, they’d be shocked.

People don’t respond for a variety of reasons. In my two decades as a life and executive coach, I’ve observed that most people who don’t respond simply never learned the skills and are unaware that they aren’t responding.

What non-responders don’t realize is that by failing to react, they can leave others feeling wronged, confused, embarrassed, shut down or unimportant.

We talk here often about how changing other people’s behavior is difficult, and usually nearly impossible! So the best place to start here is with ourselves.

In this instance, being a great communicator, vital in today’s Information Age and connection economy, starts with you becoming aware of how well you respond.

Check out your skills in the nine-point quiz below. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 as never and 10 as always, how would you rate your ability to “respond?”

1)   When I notice someone doing something positive or good, I almost always acknowledge it.

2)   When I am distracted, and someone speaks to me or arrives in the room, (this includes your kids!), I apologize and inform them I’m distracted and not focused on them right now.

3)   In conversation, I am aware of when I change the subject, and why.

4)   I make sure people feel heard and celebrated, if appropriate, when they are sharing important news.

5)   If I don’t know what to say in response to someone, I at least acknowledge them. (i.e., Wow, I see you’re excited about that, etc.)

6)   If I truly have no words in response to someone, and I sense they are needing one, I ask permission to think about it and get back to them.

7)   When someone gives me a compliment, I thank them and tell them how their compliment made me feel.

8)   If someone has crossed a boundary with me, I tell them clearly and directly without being confrontational, allowing the moment to pass, or shutting down. (i.e., “It’s not OK with me”…”that doesn’t work for me,” etc.)

9)   I believe there is plenty in this world for me, and I easily and enthusiastically honor the achievements and successes of people I care about.

Cathy and Liz, I see you are disappointed by the lack of response from your boss and your friends.

Make sure that you become the outstanding communicators and exemplary role models in “responding” that you are wishing for from them.

For Cathy, it is perfectly appropriate to approach your boss multiple times a year and ask: “I am eager to stay on track, will you please tell me one thing I’m doing well so I continue to do that?”

For Liz, when your friends fail to respond to your achievements or news, you might say: “There aren’t very many places I can celebrate my success and I feel safe in our friendship to share. Are you OK cheering me on?”

And, when they don’t greet you with enthusiasm when you arrive at their home, you might ask: “Should we come back at another time?”

Or, you could throw your arms around them, take their faces in your hands, and say “HELLO, I’ve missed you and I’m so happy to see you!!!”  If that doesn’t work, you might need new friends ;-)

Keep us posted on how things work out for you.

As for you, which of the “responding” skills in the quiz do you need to work on?  What support do you need to make it happen?  Good luck and feel free to share onthe blog.

Have a wonderful week and I’ll see you next week!

Love,

P.S. Women on Fire monthly members, I’m thrilled to announce you will receive in your mailbox this week an extraordinary interview with Thirty-One Gifts FounderCindy Monroe!

At 29 and with two small children, Cindy started a business in her basement. Eleven years later, that business now has more than 1,500 employees and 100,000 sales consultants. You are going to love hearing just how Cindy did it!

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Members’ Club Sneak Peek Nov. 2014

Each month, our founder, Debbie Phillips, interviews an inspiring expert for monthly members. If you’re not yet a member, please be our guest and listen in today for free to a clip of Debbie’s upcoming candid interview with wife, mom, founder and CEO of Thirty-One Gifts, Cindy Monroe.

Cindy started Thirty-One Gifts eleven years ago in her basement, with two small children and a full time job. Since then Thirty-One Gifts has grown to become the 17th largest direct-selling company in the world with 1,500 employees and more than 100,00 sales consultants in United States and Canada. She is one of the most authentic and down-to-earth women, let alone CEOs, that you’ll ever meet, and in this exclusive interview she reveals how she built her dream business so that you can too!

Simply press PLAY on the video below to listen to a brief audio clip (2:02) of this heartfelt and inspiring interview.

In the full interview package, you’ll discover:

  • Why big goals are crushing your momentum and how to fix that
  • How to keep your family/relationship afloat while pursuing your dream
  • The No. 1 quality that’s more important than any degree when starting a business
  • How to gather safe and constructive feedback on a new business idea
  • The most important thing to invest in during the early stages of your business

If you are already a monthly member, enjoy this sneak preview. You’ll receive the full interview package in your mailbox in early November.

If you aren’t yet a member and would like to receive the full interview with Cindy Monroe, I invite you to join us TODAY! You will also receive:

  • An invitation to our popular monthly live video coaching call/chat with Debbie Phillips, in which you can receive personalized coaching on whatever you are struggling with and the chance to win one of Debbie’s FAVORITE items from Thirty-One gifts :)
  • Access to our private, members-only Facebook group, where you can connect and feel the support of our amazing community
  • Personalized coaching materials each month
  • Plus many more benefits and fun each month!

Click here to register to receive November’s monthly membership package.  Registration to receive the interview with Cindy Monroe ends on Sunday, November 30, 2014.

Don’t miss out on this truly inspiring interview full of hope and love that will motivate you to get moving on that big idea!

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Inspiration from Ms. O to Start Your Week

Hello from Miami and American Airlines Arena!

The weather was overcast and rainy, but that did not stop Ms. Oprah Winfreyfrom bringing the sunshine to nearly 10,000 women (and quite a few men) last weekend on the Miami leg of her The Life You Want tour.

I was fortunate enough to go, and I am thrilled to share some of the wisdom and inspiration from Oprah and her “trailblazers” — Deepak Chopra, Rob Bell, Elizabeth Gilbert and Iyanla Vanzant.

Several Women on Fire have attended the tour when it was in earlier cities, and you can read what they took away during Oprah’s live event on the blog.

Gayle King, Oprah’s best friend as well as editor of O Magazine and co-host of CBSThis Morning, shared her gracious presence all weekend.

She and I had a nice little chat about …what else? Women on Fire!  She truly is a fireball and I know many of you love her too.

Oprah got the show rolling with her brand of inspiration and wisdom, first sharing her personal story of her life and then introducing her special guests.

The energy and excitement — and the party that Oprah and her team created — will stay for a long time to come!

Here are some of the highlights from the speakers I thought you might enjoy.

From world renowed author and spiritual leader Dr. Deepak Chopra:

  • You cannot connect with spirit if you let the voices of the world drown you out.
  • See the world as a reflection of your inner state and shift from fear to love.
  • Multi-tasking is the only thing that gets worse with practice. If you’re fully present, you’ll have all the time to do what you need to do.
  • When your intention is aligned with your purpose there is flow.

He told the audience he meditates for two hours every single day. He led a brief meditation that was heavenly.

He answered an audience member’s question: What if you fall asleep during meditation?

“If you fall asleep while meditating, it means you need more sleep. The body is wonderful in that way!”

I know many of you have done the Oprah and Deepak 21-day Meditation Challenge.I highly recommend it as a way to learn meditation, which we all know has incredible physical and emotional benefits to stay calm and focused. (And you don’t have to make it a two-hour commitment!)

From best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat, Pray, Love about her midlife journey to discover herself:

  • ‘I’m leaving’ were the two most dangerous words I ever said.
  • Don’t do what I did, do what I asked. What is my place in the world?
  • Some people we must love from a safe distance.
  •  We can be the heroes of our own lives. We just need to BEGIN!!
  •  What have you come here to do with your choices?
  •  If you want to have real transformation, it is never painless or easy.
  •  It’s better to live your destiny imperfectly, than to live someone else’s perfectly!

From pastor and best-selling author of Love Wins Rob Bell:

  • May you embrace this miraculous nature of life. It all matters.
  • Every point of the universe is actually the center of the universe.
  • We often rush through the very things that have the most power to transform us.
  • Do you believe in miracles? That’s not the question. It’s all a miracle, isn’t it?
  • You can say YES to this moment and experience a joy that cannot be put into words.

From the indomitable author and speaker Iyanla Vanzant, host of OWN Network’s show Fix My Life!:

  • Life always tell you the truth …your job is to recognize it and accept it
  • Courage is the strength to do something before you’re forced to.
  • When you’re birthing something, you need someone to hold your hand. But be careful what you grab onto.
  • The life you want is on the other side of the labor pains it takes to birth it. Don’t get stuck in the pain.
  • How not to be drained helping others? I don’t help anyone. Help is the tool of the ego. When you’re focused on “helping,” when they succeed, they forget you; if they fail , you beat yourself up.
  • You get to choose who you are in relationship to other people.

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And from the amazing Ms. Oprah herself:

  • You can only help people to the capacity they can accept your help.
  • Spend no time messing in other people’s territory. You have no power there. Your kids. Your husband. Your friends. You can only control your own territory!
  • Your purpose has already happened. The question is: are you living it and being it on purpose?
  • You become — not what you want — but what you believe.
  • Life sends you a message in a whisper; then a pebble when it’s a problem; then a brick when it’s a crisis and a brick wall when it’s a disaster!
  • It’s not about fame. It’s about stepping into the call of your life and the expression that is uniquely you. When you leave this Earth, you want to have blown it out, the highest, purest expression of yourself!

There are still two more live Oprah weekends with tickets available in Seattle and San Jose.  If you get the opportunity to go, one thing I know for sure: if you are a Woman on Fire, you will be inspired!

Wishing you a beautiful and successful Oprah-kind-of week ~

Love,

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Women on Fire members attend Oprah’s The Life You Want weekend

Here is a collection of aha moments and key takeaways from a few of our Women on Fire members who attended Oprah’s The Life You Want weekends.Screenshot 2014-10-26 14.11.53

Stage view in Miami from the Women on Fire instagram!

Iyanla Vanzant really struck a chord with me when she said, ‘If you made it through the past, then you passed.  In life, you don’t have to get an “A”!  A “C” will do just fine. And, in some cases, a D will work. Life really is on your side!’ Perfect for perfectionists!

~ Stephanie Dalfonzo, Danbury, Connecticut, who attended in Newark, New Jersey with Women on Fire sisters Kate Moore Perlman and Sai Jimenez.

Oprah crowd

Lighting up the arena: the crowd during the Soul Cycle® workout in Miami

I seek inspiration now instead of waiting for it to find me to get in the zone. I created and now live my vision – organization, self-care and productivity are my friends, procrastination is my foe. After seeing Oprah’s place to meditate I went home and created a beautiful space for reflection.

~ Sai Jimenez, New York, New York

Kate Stephanie Sai at Oprah

Women on Fire members Kate Moore Perlman, Stephanie Dalfonzo and Sai Jimenez at The Life You Want weekend in New Jersey.

An underlying thread was listening to your inner voice, the universe, and that what life is telling us is what we need to hear, to know, etc. Also, that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, not humans having a spiritual experience. Aha!”

~ Kate Moore Perlman, West Orange, New Jersey

maria and jesse at oprah

Women on Fire member Maria Cannone, her husband Jesse pose with “Oprah” :) at The Life You Want weekend in Houston.

I danced, I grinned at everyone, I ugly-cried, I laughed, and I was filled to the brim (massive overflow) with GRATITUDE. I was unbelievably inspired to create the highest, grandest vision for my life and then to let every step move me in that direction!

~ Maria Cannone, Austin, Texas

Thank you to each of our amazing Women on Fire members who shared the inspiration and strategies they learned at Oprah’s live weekends across the country!

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She’s A Woman on Fire! Meet Dana Frost

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…

Dana Frost- She's a Woman on Fire

Dana Frost

Wilmette (Chicago), Illinois

Member: #00138

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?

Dirt by Florida Georgia Line, Tip It on Back by Dierks Bentley, and American Kids by Kenny Chesney.

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.

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How-To Crush What Holds You Back

Happy Monday!

A few days ago I spent a day-plus in New York City with three icons of the entrepreneurial world:  Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey and Gary Vaynerchuk.

Some of you know them or one or two of them; or maybe you’ve never heard of any of them.

If you, like me, have a big dream and want to be better and do better in this world, each one of these inspiring men is worth knowing and listening to.

Each has gone through the fire – the fire of doubt, loss, embarrassment, mistakes, fear, failure, unknowing — and each one uniquely blazed a trail that transformed their own dreams into success.

After my colleague Sebastian Kaupert and I spent time with these men, I walked away from Business Is Personal remarkably filled and inspired and I couldn’t wait to share with you some of their wisdom.

The bottom line is that we allow so many things to stand in our way and hold us back from our success. If the lives of these men are proof, it’s time to “crush” what holds us back and get on with it!

But first, let me briefly introduce them…

Seth Godin is a world-class thought leader on marketing, and author of a popular and very useful blog as well as 17 books, many best-selling, including Tribes,Linchpin and All Marketers Are Liars (Story-Tellers). I’ve written about Seth in pastSparks!

Gary Vee, as he is nicknamed, is a 38-year-old entrepreneur and podcast host, best known for growing his parents’ wine business from $3 million to a $50 million enterprise. He’s authored several books including my favorite Why Now Is The Time To Crush It. Today he owns VaynerMedia with more than 400 employees in three locations.

I knew the least about Dave Ramsey and I ended up riveted by his life, work, warmth and wisdom.  He hosts the 3rd most popular radio show in the United States, on 546 stations, with 10 million listeners.

After becoming a millionaire from scratch and then going bankrupt, Dave applied new ideas to his life for getting and staying out of debt.

He then began to share what he learned with others who needed hope and strategies. Today his inspiring programs are responsible for helping millions of people to get out of debt and to become financially solvent.

“If you help enough people, you’ll never have to worry about money,” Dave told us.

I’d like to condense the time I was so fortunate to have with these men into a few nuggets that I think you might find helpful and enjoy as you pursue your own big dreams:

From Seth Godin:

  •  There are a lot of ups and downs on the path to making something.
  •  The point is not the ending; the point is the journey.
  •  If you’re not willing to not be perfect, you won’t make magic.
  •  There’s a reason you have toxic people in your life. If you’re willing to give up that thing you’re getting from them, you’ll do better.
  •  Human beings are good at connecting with other human beings. Connection is coming back!  Together, we are all smarter than any of us.
  •  There is a huge difference between being ready and being prepared. You’ll never be ready (for whatever endeavor you’re embarking upon) but you can be prepared (by being in the right mindset and learning).
  •  Is the work you’re doing worth living in the tension for a while? Most people cannot live with the tension.  But the tension is what gets you to the art.
  •  Show up with passion to make it work!

From Gary Vaynerchuk:

  • How do I get through tough times? Happily. When you stop caring about what other people think, it gets easier.
  •  Who do you want to be? The person who calls when there is a problem – or the person who is called to solve the problem?
  •  I stay in my own swim lane. I know what I’m good at and I know what I’m bad at.
  •  The second you’re looking backwards, you’re finished. Pick a focus and don’t look back.
  •  Invest in yourself — take every dollar you need to live and all other dollars to bet on yourself.
  •  I am so uninterested in spending time with negative people. I just don’t.
  •  White wine is better at room temperature!

From Dave Ramsey:

  • People matter.  You have to think and believe people matter.  When we have friends who are transactional, we run the other way.
  • Don’t ever treat your customers as units of revenue.  Vendors are people; treat them like family.
  •  I want to know how someone’s been crushed in life; not where someone went to college.
  • It’s said that your income is the average of your 10 closest friends.
  •  People are sick of people who are inauthentic. Be who you is! Don’t be the squirrel who can’t make up his mind.
  •  Be obsessively, compulsively pre-occupied with the needs of others. Money will come to those who serve.
  • Higher calling matters. Why you are doing the business you’re doing matters more than what you’re doing. Operate from your soul.
  •  Being generous is the hallmark of people who are successful.

I hope you found even just one piece of gold in their wisdom to guide your week!  Have a great one.

I’ll see Women on Fire monthly members on Tuesday night for our Live Chat!  The topic will be “Understanding Conflict — And Ways To Resolve It To Live in Peace and Harmony.”

If you’re not yet a member, it’s never too late to join our ever-growing circle of inspiration, strategies and support.  Thank you for being here!

Love,

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